"My firm belief is that the future of our two countries will be determined by what is happening in the schools of each of our nations today." (Julia Gillard's November 2 speech in Jakarta: Australia will spend $500 million to upgrade Indonesian schools, Tom Allard, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/11/10)
In Indonesia, Prime Minister Gillard is hoping to extinguish sectarian fires: "Australia will spend $500 million building 2000 new schools in Indonesia and upgrading the curriculums of 1500 Islamic madrasas to improve prospects for Indonesia's youth and moderate the influence of the country's religious schools." (ibid)
In Australia, however, she's busy fueling sectarian fires: "Recently the PM, Julia Gillard, 'turbo-charged' the [National School] Chaplaincy Program [first introduced by John Howard] and prompted an unseemly rush to chaplaincy, even in the NSW government school system, which has historically eschewed mixing church and state. One of Gillard's key election campaign promises in August was to boost school chaplain numbers. Her $222 million pledge - more than double Howard's spend - is expected to result in federally funded chaplains at more than one-third of Australia's 10,000 government and non-government schools. Constitutional concerns about the separation of church and state... have been swept aside in the subsidy scramble." (With God by their side, Damien Murphy, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/10/10)
Not bad for a declared atheist, eh?
Oh, and as for Australia's future being determined by what is happening in our schools, I thought you might like a glimpse at where we might be heading with the PM's little $222 million sectarian feeding frenzy: "A couple living on the NSW north coast say they are scared to speak out against the chaplaincy program because their 8-year old son has been attacked at school. They wish to remain anonymous, but say that the local Christian lobby that applied for and secured funding for a chaplain did so without the knowledge of the general parent body. 'Since then, we've had to comfort our son on more than one occasion when he's come home upset after being told by other people that he'll literally 'burn in hell' because he does not share their religious beliefs or attend the same church', the father says." (ibid)