Monday, October 27, 2008

DECS tries to put property developer on principal panel

The following article has been copied from the website of the Progressive Educators (

Many South Australians are starting to question the creeping crony capitalism that is emerging here.

The Australian Labor Party may as well be the Alternative Liberal Party or the Anti Labor Party, having rebadged itself as “pro-business, pro-mining and pro-growth”.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with these three things in themselves; however, as a program packaged to the exclusion of concern for the rights of working people, of repudiation of the traditional links between the political wing and the trade unions, and with complementary preference for everything private over anything public, then it is not unfair to say that we are witnessing the reinvention of the ALP.

It is, in Foley’s terms, a “modern Labor Party… We have realised the error of our policies in the past.”

The Labor Party is for all intent and purposes a Business and Development Party.

The crony capitalism emerges in $3000 per head business breakfasts and dinners that act as fund-raisers for the ALP by allowing business people exclusive access to the premier and his senior ministers.

Prominent among those hosting such dinners are the consortia bidding for the six super school PPP contracts.

It is the sort of cronyism that one might expect in the Philippines or Indonesia.

It is therefore no great surprise that in such an atmosphere of corruption and direct commercial involvement in setting government direction, senior DECS bureaucrats have been prepared to connive in an attempt to infiltrate a local property developer onto a DECS principal selection panel!

The Executive Director of Human Resources, Mr Phil O’Loughlin, a career bureaucrat with no background in education (it’s bad enough that he’s the lead DECS negotiator in enterprise bargaining!) recently endorsed the addition of a representative of Delfin Lend Lease to the principal panel at Mawson Lakes Primary School.

The current principal has maintained close ties with the Delfin company, from which the land on which the school is built is believed to be leased. He has apparently been quite open in announcing that he is retiring early in order to take up a consultancy position with Delfin.

Whatever the truth of the relationship between the current principal and Delfin, such an astonishing step as including a Delfin nominee on the selection panel for the next principal could only have been taken by a senior DECS bureaucrat who has correctly judged the direction in which the political winds of the state are blowing.

He could only have committed to the inclusion of a commercial interest on a panel for the selection of a public school principal if he were convinced that such an unexpected and controversial step was in line with the current thinking of the government.

The AEU sub-branch at the school has condemned DECS’s insulting sell-out to commercial interests, as has the AEU Executive.

The AEU can be expected to fight this disgusting precedent for the extension of crony capitalism to the selection of school principals, and will need to make it absolutely clear that in the case of the six super schools – all schools for that matter – there is no room for property developers or real estate agents or any other commercial interests on selection panels.

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