Head girl teaches new boy a lesson for copying answers

Sydney Morning herald
1 March, 2007
By Phillip Coorey

KEVIN Rudd is not the Messiah.

So said the Education Minister, Julie Bishop, yesterday as she accused Mr Rudd of poaching the idea of introducing a national school curriculum.

"Naughty boy. You stole that idea didn't you," teased the impeccably coiffed one before segueing seamlessly from Monty Python to reality TV.

"You will have to go to the naughty corner won't you?"

Not only did Mr Rudd pilfer the policy from the Government, she taunted, but the name of its mothership, The Education Revolution, was borrowed from a more sinister source: "What did you learn today? Creating an education revolution by one Mark Latham."

Ms Bishop should at least score points for having unearthed a copy of one of Mr Latham's more turgid offerings.

Mr Rudd's idea was the latest example of the one-upmanship between the Government and Labor as they compete to care more about the same thing.

Sure, they disagree vehemently on Iraq and industrial relations, but on other matters, Mr Rudd has adopted a policy of hugging his foe and surreptitiously placing a "kick me" sign on his back, rather than taking the cudgel to him.

The Government has been prattling on for years about nationalising school curriculums but has been resisted by the Labor states, the education unions and the federal Labor Party itself.

Now Mr Rudd is the leader and Stephen Smith his education spokesman, the ALP has done an about-face. The education unions may not be convinced but Mr Rudd has made it clear, both publicly and privately, that he will run them through should they stand in his path.

So Mr Rudd's policy is off and running while Ms Bishop is still awaiting a meeting with her state counterparts in April to try to convince them of backing her plan, not Mr Rudd's. Fat chance, one would imagine.

John Howard sniffed partisan politics at play. "If, in fact, the state education ministers change their tune because the federal Labor Party have put up the proposal, it will demonstrate what we have believed for a long time: that they have been playing politics for a number of years."

Politics or not, perhaps Mr Rudd could include spelling as a fifth national subject. His press release yesterday hailed the policy as the third chapter in Labor's "Eduction" Revolution.

Feeling similarly flattered by mimicry yesterday was Peter Costello who, for the umpteenth time, insisted Mr Rudd had no right to support the Government's policy on inflation, interest rates and balanced budgets.

With China's boom about to bang, Mr Costello said it was a salient reminder to stick with the government which had developed an economy hardy enough to withstand global tremors.

"If you want the policy, come to the authors, not the imitators, because the imitators can disappear quickly," he implored.

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