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An analysis of the origins and development of the educational policies of the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia between 1964 and 1982

Loreck, Thomas Victor (1985) An analysis of the origins and development of the educational policies of the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia between 1964 and 1982. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The study of the educational platforms of the major political parties in WA has been largely neglected. It is the aim of the following historical study to trace the evolution of the ALP's education policies and platforms in WA from 1964 to 1982 and the events, trends and issues which have given it its current shape. This process has been studied largely from the records of the ALP and via interviews with key participants.

One of the more important trends has been the gradual erosion of community apathy towards education. From the earliest years of this century the WA Education Department assumed control over most aspects of education, including the formation of policy. The community. Parliament and Ministers for Education largely seemed content with this state of affairs. This situation remained almost unchanged until the late 1960s. At that time national events such as the increasing involvement of the Commonwealth Government in school funding and the state aid debate aroused community interest in education. Coupled with these political events were societal changes such as the effect of technology on employment, the growing demands of ethnic groups and the emergence of the women's movement. These changes placed new demands on education and political, as well as bureaucratic solutions, were sought. Groups with interests in education brought pressure to bear on Ministers for Education and their political parties in order to achieve their ends.

The results of these events were threefold. Firstly, party platforms on education grew dramatically. Thus the 1967 platform comprising a mere one and a half pages grew to over twelve by 1984. Secondly, these platforms expanded largely because of pressure from the community and from lobby groups for more educational services. Thus the political parties had a vested interest in implementing their platforms. Finally, the implementation of these platforms resulted, in effect, in a challenge by the Ministers for Education to the de facto supremacy of the Education Department in the area of policy creation.

The first two areas, the expansion of ALP platform and the reasons for its occurrence are the major concerns of this study. During the period under study (1964 - 1982) clashes between the Minister for Education, the Director General and his Education Department have increased. Smart and Alderson (1980) have documented these events. It remains to be seen whether the implementation of the Beazley Report (1984) will further erode the historically dominant position of the Director General as the chief actor in the policy formation process.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Smart, Don
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