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Australian public policyProgressive ideas in the neo-liberal ascendency$
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Chris Miller and Lionel Orchard

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447312673

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447312673.001.0001

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Mixed messages in the new politics of education

Mixed messages in the new politics of education

(p.169) Ten Mixed messages in the new politics of education
Australian public policy

Louise Watson

Charlotte Liu

Policy Press

This chapter illustrates how the Australian Labor government's education policies between 2007 and 2013 spoke to the dominant neo-liberal consensus while echoing a social democratic vision. The neoliberal assumption that education's primary value is economic dominated Labor's education policy statements, even when the policy intent was redistributive. Labor expanded higher education places to make Australia more economically competitive, while introducing financial incentives for universities to enrol students from lower socio-economic groups. Labor's argument that its National Partnership Agreements and Better Schools (Gonski) Plan would improve Australia's competitive position in international league tables was reported more widely than its commitment to reducing the achievement gap, yet the additional funding was targeted to both objectives. While Labor's coupling of redistributive principles with neoliberal mantras may have silenced potential critics of its policies, it conveyed mixed messages about the value of education in a social democracy.

Keywords:   neoliberalism, education, policy, universities, schools, Gonski, Labor, Australia, economic, social

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