More politics of envy
The role of government in education became controversial with the Australian Labor Party's Great Australian Schools education policy, released during 2004's election campaign. Aimed at freezing and cutting funding for a 'hit' list of primary and secondary schools whose fees were above a specified threshold, it attracted much criticism for stifling the hopes of aspirational voters.
In The Age today John Roskam depicts Labor's opposition to full-fee places for the 'rich' as more politics of envy:
"Unfortunately, it appears that envy is a key motivation behind Labor's promise to abolish full-fee places. At the last federal election envy motivated the ALP's "hit list" attack on wealthy private schools. Just as Mark Latham disappeared after the election, so too did his policy.Roskam makes a good comparison. Full-fee places are perceived by many people as a second chance to get into the course of their choice. And unfortunately for Labor, the FEE-HELP loan scheme makes full-fee places more affordable, increasing the liklihood that people will recognise Labor's politics of envy for what it is: blatant scare-mongering.
Hopefully, Labor's current higher education policy will go the same way as Mark Latham's schools policy."
Contrary to popular opinion, the ALP's 2004 schools policy did not intend to take money from non-government schools and give to public schools. Rather, it outlined a view of taking money from a select group of non-government schools and giving to other non-government schools - about $378 million to Catholic systemic schools and $206 million to low-fee independent schools.
Few voters would have read the fine print on Labor's education policy under Latham. The Government's propaganda was too effective. I suspect many will form their opinion on Labor's universities policy in a similar fashion, mainly because it's so easy to point out the 'envy' involved.