October 6

Teaching history

A shift to a republic becomes important as a means of enhancing democratic accountability and citizenship, writes left wing academic historian Tony Moore in an opinion piece The Australian (5/10). This is because Australia was established as a penal colony and that the Crown established such services as schools and policing which in Britain were left to local communities. Actually most schooling in Australia was developed by the Christian churches before compulsory education was introduced.  

He says the “Rudd government should build on the governance work of Carmen Lawrence and John Faulkner and accompany the campaign for a republic with democratic reforms to the operation of parliaments and quangos.”

He has a curious sense of history. Growing up in a blue collar family in working class Port Kembla and Dapto, NSW, he thinks he owes his education, good health and much of his working life to “the remaking of the state that occurred under ( former Prime Minister) Gough Whitlam and ( former NSW Premier) Neville Wran.”

Schools, and universties – and if you put aside technological advances for which neither republican politician was in the slightest way responsible  – hospitals and medical general practice,  were in far better shape before they took office.

Mr.Moore says the potency of the French Revolution lay in its marriage of liberty with equality and fraternity.

The French revolutionaries said it was about such things. In actual fact they imposed tyranny, the Reign of Terror, dictatorship and a long quarter century war which resulted proportionately in more deaths than the First World War.

Mr Moore teaches in the Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University.

 


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