Vanstone blames the victims

August 20, 1997

Vanstone blames the victims

By Marina Cameron

Education minister Amanda Vanstone recently launched a campaign to blame the universities and schools under pressure from funding cuts for the adverse effects of privatisation begun under Labor and accelerated under the Coalition.

On August 5 Vanstone attacked university entrance systems at a speech at the Sydney Institute, labelling the scores and ranking based on final-year school results as "elitist" and "unfair".

It seems that Vanstone has just discovered that the system favours those from wealthier backgrounds and private schools! The $1 million Vanstone has offered to help universities pilot alternative selection methods is minute compared to the $2.3 billion cut from university operating grants last year.

Students organised a protest outside the speech, pointing out that Coalition policy — further cuts to public secondary and higher education, reducing income support and more fees — is only going to make this worse.

Vanstone is now blaming public schools for unemployment.

On August 8, in a speech to the American-Australian Chamber of Commerce in Adelaide, Vanstone blasted public schools because, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, school-leavers from public secondary schools are 10 times more likely to end up unemployed than their private school counterparts.

An article in the Australian pointed out that this figure was linked to education opportunities, citing the fact that 60% of private schools students (compared to 46% from public schools) go on to university, which keeps them off the unemployment figures and helps in finding jobs.

Vanstone's antics are a cynical attempt to look like she cares that unemployment rose by 23,000 in July. She is also keen to deflect blame for the inequalities in education and employment opportunities, and for a widening class divide which she supports and contributes to by cutting public education.

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