Page 3514 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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The sixties, as a cultural term, refers roughly to the period from the early 1960s to at least 1975. There is admittedly some dispute over the particular year at either end of the time scale. Professor Arthur Marwick, for example, in his recent book The sixties, opts for 1958 to 1974, while Robert Hewison, in his book Too much: art and society in the sixties, prefers 1960 to 1975. Either way, there is no dealing with the cut-off point of 1969. But if you are literal minded, as Ms MacDonald intends to be, it is obvious that Ms Gallagher was conceived in 1969, which makes her literally a child of the sixties.

Two observations: Ms MacDonald complained about members on this side quoting from Kevin Donnelly. She pointed out that Dr Donnelly is a member of the Victorian right-wing section of the Liberal Party and is “sniffing around the seat of Kooyong”. I do not know where she managed to unearth that somewhat intimate information—and I will take her word for it—but, more seriously, she argued that he has a doctorate in education and, because he has never practised as an academic in the field, somehow his views do not have validity.

I should like to reveal to Ms MacDonald that the two most elementary fallacies regarding that, employed by demagogues, are: the argument to the person, and the argument from authority. Having a diploma in teaching, as Ms MacDonald let us know she has, she might well better know these arguments as argumentum ad hominem and argumentum ad vericundiam.

My simple point is that these are both fallacious arguments with no place in reasonable debate. In no way do they invalidate Dr Donnelly’s contention about the state of education. He could be the devil incarnate or even Mark Latham, and the fact has not the slightest effect on the validity or invalidity of his arguments. These must be assessed independently according to the accuracy of the premise and the soundness of the logic.

My second observation is a brief one. Ms MacDonald told the Assembly that she had not heard the name Piaget since doing her teaching qualification. I can only observe that, before she comments on pedagogical trends, past or present, she ought to keep up with the literature.


MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (6.08): I cannot let that one go. Thank you, Mrs Dunne, for amusing us all. Yes, indeed, you are correct. I was not certain of the exact date of Ms Gallagher’s birth, but she was more than a twinkle in her father’s eye in the sixties; that is true. In regard to those people who decide that the sixties go up to 1975: those of my acquaintance who were born after 1970 do not consider themselves to be children of the sixties. I have to tell you that, Mrs Dunne.

But on the issue of Dr Donnelly: Mrs Dunne has quoted parts of what I said last night. Certainly it is true that I quoted all those points about his being involved with the Liberal Party. My point was, Mrs Dunne—and I said quite clearly that Dr Donnelly was entitled to his opinion—that he should not be quoted as an impartial authority on the area.

Mrs Dunne: No-one said he was. I did not quote him.

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