Posts Tagged ‘School League Tables’

Peter Debnam MP to Speak Out Against School League Tables Censorship

July 18, 2009

I am very pleased to announce that Peter Debnam MP, Member for Vacluse, will be speaking out AGAINST the censorship of school league tables, and giving background information to the whole debacle, on the 30 June.

This event is a MUST for all Liberal Party supporters in NSW who believe in the fundamental principles of the party, and oppose this disastrous policy.

Date:              Thursday, 30 July 2009
Time:             19:15 – 22:15
Location:     Rose Bay RSL, Cnr Vickery and New South Head Road, Rose Bay

You can register on facebook at

Also, you can read a speech of Peter Debnam’s from last month on Liberal Party values, where he argues that “Liberals need to stand for more than political opportunism and stunts. When push comes to shove, I know I want a Liberal Party with strong values and determination” at

I strongly urge ALL Liberals to attend this event.

Barry O’Farrell Responds To My Letter

July 13, 2009

Well, at least I got a form email back – certainly am glad though that I did get a response, and with a relatively quick turnaround.

Unfortunately, not the result we wished for, so, all it now means is –  time to lobby the backbench! 🙂

I reproduce the email below:

Dear Tim

Thank you for your email of 10 July 2009.

I have read your email with interest and appreciate you taking the time to write to me about school league tables.

The NSW Liberal/Nationals believe parents should have access to detailed information about the performance of their children’s schools, including student results. This information will be freely available on a Federal Government website this year – which is why we supported the legislation.

What we oppose are crude, simplistic “league tables” that rank schools across the State without regard to their particular circumstances. Such an approach fails to recognise the different challenges and advantages that may be experienced in individual schools.

“League tables” are opposed by the vast majority of education experts in this country. International experience shows that the publication of simplistic league tables has the effect of undermining schools, as they do not provide a fair indication of school performance.

In the debate on the recent education bill, every Member of Parliament who participated argued against these “league tables”. Our support for the amendment that seeks out to prevent “league tables” being published reflected this – and the claim by the Minister for Education, Verity Firth, that the data “will not be used to prepare “league tables”.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.


“Liberal Members & Supporters Against School League Table Censorship” Facebook Group

July 11, 2009

I’m kicking myself for not coming up with this earlier, but have created a facebook group for all Liberal members and supporters who oppose the Coalition’s actions on school league tables.

You can join the group here.

Please, invite all your friends, promote this on twitter, facebook, via email, however you can. The more people that join, the more we can show our leadership that there really is genuine grassroots discontent out there.

Joining isn’t hard – it takes just one click – and really will make a difference. So do so! 🙂

An Open Letter To Barry O’Farrell

July 10, 2009

To:          Barry O’Farrell MP
NSW Leader of the Opposition

Cc:          Nick Campbell, Mark Neeham, Scott Farlow

Dear Mr. O’Farrell,

I write to you to express my deep concern regarding the electoral implications for the NSW Coalition following recent actions by the Parliamentary wing of the Liberal Party in supporting the censorship of school league tables by the print media.

By way of context, I have been a Liberal Party member for over a decade. During that time I have served many years as a Branch President, as Vice President (Policy) of the NSW Young Liberals, and two terms as President of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation. I have campaigned in countless federal, state, and local elections. I have dedicated years of my life in service to the party. I have done this out of my unshakable belief in the Liberal Party and our values. Like all our campaigners, I dedicated my time because I believe as a Party we are worth fighting for. That our beliefs in individual freedom, small government, and free markets are what will result in a prosperous society.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that in NSW, the Rees Labor government is a joke, and quite possibly eligible for an Australian record in the “Worst Government in History” category. For the sake of New South Wales, I want this government thrown out of office, and the Liberal Party in power.

As such it distresses me greatly that recent actions by the NSW Parliamentary team have placed what should be almost certain electoral victory in great jeopardy. By now, you cannot have failed to notice the grassroots Liberal Party membership anger generated by your recent decision to side with the radical-left Teachers Federation and the Greens, and support legislation censoring the media. You cannot have failed to notice the outrage and indignation felt by our members that you chose to oppose fundamental Liberal Principles championed by John Howard and Brendan Nelson. You cannot have failed to notice that you have gone against standing policy of the NSW Young Liberals, the Federal Young Liberals and the Australian Liberal Students Federation, and that you have placed yourself at odds with our parliamentary counterparts in every other state.

There can be no doubt that the grassroots fury directed at the parliamentary wing of the party by our members is without precedent in the last decade of the NSW Division Liberal Party. On no other occasion has our membership been so outraged as to almost publically mutiny, as they have done on this issue. Not once have they gone out publically in droves as in this instance. This anger is not driven by conservative talk radio hosts or op-ed columnists, it was nor fermented simply by John Howard and Brendan Nelson attacking your policy in recent days. Rather, it was a backlash that came out of deeply held convictions about the fundamental ideological underpinnings of our party that our members hold.

Allow me to present just a small sampling of comments by Liberal Party members in New South Wales:


Make Our Voices Heard: Take Action On School League Tables!

July 8, 2009

One of the things that struck me today was that Barry O’Farrell really and genuinely doesn’t know the depth of feeling against censoring the media from publishing school league tables. He honestly is unaware just how his stance has put the Parliamentary team in jeopardy with its supporters, members and donors. In fact, I’ve been reliably informed that Mr. O’Farrell really is quite blissfully ignorant , and has actually said it can’t be a problem because no-one from the party membership has contacted him about this!

So. Let’s change that. Rather than than just whinge to each other, let’s take action and make a difference. Let’s make our voice heard!

I call on ALL readers of this blog to contact Barry and let him know your thoughts! If enough Liberal Party members contact Mr. O’Farrell’s office on this, we CAN get a policy reversal.

You can send an email to outlining your concerns, as well as leave a comment on facebook where he has set up a ‘discussion‘ on this. Or do both. (You can also cc just to ensure he gets the message)! It doesn’t have to be a long analysis or anything, just let him know how you feel. It won’t be public, so you don’t have to worry about. It will take you only two minutes. And it will make a difference.

Please pass this message on to everyone you know who believes in fundamental Liberal principles, and wants to see change! Let’s get this happening!!! It if only if we all do this that we will save the Liberal Party from political and ideological disaster.

One short email to is all it takes. Two minutes of your time will make a BIG difference.

(Also, I would appreciate it if you do follow up on this that you note it down in comments section here, but that’s purely up to you)

If you believe in conservative/classical liberal values, if you want the Liberal Party to succeed, if you really want  change to happen then TAKE ACTION!



Update: You can also tweet Barry at @barryofarrell. Keep the pressure up!

Racism and Patronising Arrogance By NSW Opposition

July 7, 2009

The NSW Opposition’s stance on school league tables has become more than a national joke. Jokes we can at least forgive. More dangerously, it has become a national disgrace for the NSW Division of the Liberal Party.

The NSW Opposition is formally at odds with not only the Federal Parliamentary Wing of the Liberal Party, but also the Liberal party in EVERY STATE IN AUSTRALIA. To make matters worse, they are at odds with the standing policy of both the NSW Young Liberals, and the Federal Young Liberals. Yesterday, the position of the NSW Opposition was unanimously condemned by the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation (and believe me, it isn’t easy to get over a hundred Liberal Students from universities all over Australia to agree unanimously on a motion!)

The position for allowing school league tables is straightforward. The give parents information, allow them to make informed choices, and put pressure on underperforming schools to improve. In sidling up to the self-preservation agenda of the radical and extreme-left NSW Teachers Federation (and I should know about NSW Teacher Federation Activities – my mother has been a member for the last several decades) they have betrayed parents without a doubt. As was noted in yesterday’s Australian, “Banning the publication of league tables ranking schools does not protect students – it protects teachers, schools and governments who allow almost one in 10 teenagers to leave school illiterate”. In fact, even if you disagree with the concept, to go from that to demanding media censorship on the issue, as the NSW Opposition has done, is a pure and simple disgrace.

What concerns me even more, however, is a more recent justification given by the NSW Opposition for their disgraceful position. One based on the fact that “you can’t compare different areas for different reasons”. Because it is clear that if you analyse this, they have gone beyond mere political pragmaticism, and have engaged in socioeconomic arrogance and naked racism. In a manner that can only be described as morally repulsive.

I refer to an interview by NSW Shadow Education Minister Adrian Piccoli on Alan Jones yesterday. In this interview, Mr. Piccoli made two statements, loud and clear. There could be no disputing the message. Firstly, we shouldn’t expect students in lower socioeconomic areas to do as well in students in Vacluse, and secondly, that we shouldn’t expect migrants to do as well as Australian students. Both these statements are an utter disgrace.

Firstly, WHY should we expect students in differing socio-economic areas to achieve different results? Why is it accepted as a matter of dogma that if you live in a poorer area, your test results should be lower? Why is it an accepted norm that students living in less wealthy areas should perform worse that people living in “Vacluse” (I use Vacluse as it was specifically cited by Mr. Piccoli). If this is indeed the case, doesn’t it show something fundamentally wrong with our education system? That we are failing an entire generation of Australians? And rather than covering up the results, shouldn’t we try to address it?

What is even more sickening, however, is the comment that you can’t compare two schools “When you know there are a lot of kids from non English speaking backgrounds…” in one. I am not one to generally harp on about issues of race, but this is racism pure and simply. There is NO reason whatsoever that NESB  students should perform worst than native Australians. NONE. Educational statistics do not support such a claim. Mr. Piccoli is relying on racist assumptions to make his case. This is racism pure and simple.

I was raised in a household where English was almost never spoken. When I entered Kindergarten, I knew few words of English. In primary school, I attended ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. And I’ll be DAMNED if anyone DARES suggest I performed any worse because of it.  I find such comments grossly offensive, vile, and despicable, and Mr. Piccoli owes an apology to everyone from non-English speaking backgrounds. It is my firm belief that if Mr. Piccoli does not apologies for this outrageous insinuation, then he should resign.

One more thing though, where are the ‘alleged’ right wingers in the NSW Liberal Party through all of this? Where are the people who constantly harking on in the party about ‘conservative values’. In fact, speaking to Coalition staffers earlier today, these alleged conservatives and Hooray Henrys are the ones complaining about how “the party doesn’t understand what the parliamentary wing is doing”! They are the ones defending and promoting this policy! Not one – NOT ONE – allegedly conservative NSW MP has stood up for principles and truth in this matter. How anyone can can take these (insert) seriously is beyond me.

If any Coalition MP wishes to publically state their opposition to this policy, please email me and I will issue a correction and apology. In fact, I issue a call to you all – speak now, publically, or forever be deemed as a sell out.

As I said previously, the Liberal Party membership is fuming. Crossing all factional lines, crossing all divisions, our members are up in arms. Unless something is changed, the real Liberal Party supporters, the truly passionate ones, will just sit out in 2011. Many seats will be lost because of it, and none of us want this to happen.

For the sake of the Liberal Party, and the future of NSW, I beg the NSW Coalition: please reverse this disastrous policy. There is no other course of action for you.

On School League Tables

July 5, 2009

Following a barrage of criticism from within the Liberal Party on their stance to abandon fundamental Liberal principles of freedom of speech, freedom of choice, competition, by voting to support the censorship of media outlets who wish to publish ‘school league tables’, the NSW Coalition has responded to its critics.

The allegedly conservative NSW Leader of the Opposition Mr. O’Farrell had this to say:

“It is not Liberal Party policy to name and shame schools…where’s the sense in comparing schools in (Sydney’s) Berowra, Bankstown and Balgowlah, let alone ones in different parts of the state, with very different socio-economic conditions?”

Nice alliteration.

NSW Shadow Education minister Adrian Piccoli stated “A ranking system that is simplistic and wrong because it does not take into account the challenges that individual schools face” and noted that “Our position is supported almost unanimously by every serious education stakeholder”

Adrian, Adrian, Adrian. Of course your position is supported by teachers unions – school league tables empower parents and lessen their grip on the system! Principles? Of course they’d support it – when people will be able to see who’s under-performing. But you forget one very important stakeholder group – the families themselves. Parents and children – the most important stakeholders of all, yet one who you completely neglect. Rather telling really.

Irrespective of the fact that this policy is an unconscionable attack on freedom of the press and a free and open soceity, it is one that is also categorically bad for children. The only way for our primary and secondary education sector to improve is through a move away from the command and control style system of governance on which it is currently based, and towards a decentralised model based on principles of competition. A model where parents can choose to send their children away from failing schools, to better ones. Schools would be forced to increase their standards or lose students to better performing schools. And the only way you can do this is by empowering parents through giving them information.

Indeed, perhaps the most insulting part of the argument put forward by the NSW Coalition is that, effectively, parents are too stupid to know what is best for their children. That they can’t be trusted to read tables (and – heaven forbid – this might make them want to send their kids to a better school! ) Such an argument is not only arrogant, patronising and insulting, but it is also factually incorrect. Research has consistently shown, however, that where parents from poor backgrounds have been empowered to make choices, the results have been very impressive (for more info see Gannicott, K. Taking Education Seriously: A Reform Program for Australia’s Schools. Centre for Independent Studies. Sydney. 1997. p98) In any case though, if indeed choice and information is denied on the ground that parents do not choose well, then the present educational system condemns itself for failing to make them good chooser, and that “without the interposition of political influence, parents would over the decades have developed judgment in seeking schooling that would best equip their  child for adulthood.”

Is it any wonder why no-one takes the NSW Opposition seriously? Why Mr. O’Farrell’s opinion ratings are so dismally low, despite everything that’s going on in NSW?  Why anyone with an IQ above single digits on all sides of the political spectrum treats the NSW Opposition as an intellectual vacuum?in

Whilst Labor will most probably lose the next election, this shall be a Labor loss, not a Liberal victory, and  I suspect we can expect the third party vote to increase significantly.

In attempting to sidle up to the radical left teachers unions, the NSW Opposition has isolated every parent and child in NSW. By putting pusillanimous petty partisan politics above principle, they have betrayed future generations growing up in NSW. What’s more though, they have seriously, seriously delivered a punch in the guts to their supporters and Liberal Party members. Perhaps Messers O’Farrell and Piccoli are unaware of this sitting in their Macquarie Street Offices, as they spend the days thinking of their time on the Treasury benches, but the Liberal Party membership in NSW – and around Australia – is fuming. They have betrayed their core supporters, and this is a self-inflicted wound they will not easily recover from. Whilst perhaps in the electricity privitisation debate there were political gains to be made in the short term, here there are none. Radical Teachers Unions types will still never vote for us, and we have isolated our support base for nothing. A friend of mine said it best: “It’s taken socialists and the like decades of failure to try and establish a left-wing alternative to labor… It’s taken the libs half a term of O’Farrell.”

This move has been condemned by John Howard, Brenden Nelson, Jane Albrechsten and every Liberal Party blogger on the planet. The Australian Liberal Students’ Federation is is tabling a motion to condemn Mr O’Farrell for voting with the Greens “to hide information from parents about the performance of their children’s schools and instituting totalitarian bans on media reporting”. I am sure it shall pass near or even unanimously.

It’s time for Mr. O’Farrell to ‘fess up, admit he stuffed up, and take a stand for true conservative beliefs.