Whitlamite nostalgia in higher education

Jenny Macklin may not survive as the ALP Shadow Education Minister, but if recent statements from the Dreaming Team are any guide, her 1970s worldview will continue to drive Labor higher education policy. Both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard appear to be Whitlamite nostalgists. According to Rudd, he

was inspired to improve the quality of and access to education because he was the first member of his family to attend university, largely because of the Whitlam government’s free tertiary education policies.

And in his weekend broadening of his image, he told ALP supporters that:

“it makes my heart bleed when I have young kids come into my office in Brisbane and say to me ‘I don’t think we can afford to go to uni, the HECS is to much’. I think we’ve got to a stage where that has to be turned around.”

In today’s Australian (can’t find a link, sorry, but the original text is at p.49 of yesterday’s Hansard) Julia Gillard is reported as saying, in the process of lamenting the bad job schools were doing (surely the responsibility of Labor state governments?), that

“…courtesy of the Whitlam government, I then went to university and obtained two degrees. I fear that it is harder today for a girl from a working class background to make that journey than when I was young.”

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