January 29, 2007 | Graham

What’s wrong with Marist College Ashgrove?

Kevin Rudd’s charm offensive is designed to fill-out the detail of Kevin before John Howard does it for him. 90 second ads are part of this. Because they are long they say to us that they are deep, not shallow. This isn’t a glib pitch for Rudd, this is information. And from these ads we know that education is important to Rudd, which makes it odd that his attendance at Marist Brother’s Ashgrove has been mostly omitted from the accounts so far.
We know that Rudd went to Eumundi State School, and that he was dux of Nambour High. But hardly a mention of Marist Brother’s. This rankles and puzzles some old boys who’ve been probing my political knowledge. As a result, I’ve done some googling, and Rudd does admit to attending the school, but, as he tells Julia Baird:
“It was tough, harsh, unforgiving, institutional Catholicism of the old school, I didn’t like it.”
According to a well-placed source his older brother Greg puts it another way “He was too much of a mummy’s boy to make it at Ashgrove”.
Is this all there is? He wouldn’t be the only boy of his era with a similar view of Catholic education. It could be a handy starting point to publicly start a conversation exploring the area of the growth of private education, particularly as many of the voters that Rudd needs to woo send their children to private schools because they just don’t trust state school education.
It also resonates discordantly with Rudd’s professed Christianity. He and Tony Abbott are currently engaged in a duel for the Christian vote (such as it might be), but Rudd’s attachment to denominational Christianity appears slight. He attends an Anglican church in Brisbane, but has apparently never converted from his Roman Catholicism, even though he doesn’t appear to hold the Roman Church in particularly high regard. As he explains to Baird:
“Well I think in order to discover, in my case I should say, to discover an adult view of faith it was necessary to step out for a while from the tradition that you’d grown up in, in order to reflect on it and to reflect what actually lay underneath it.”
But Anglicanism and Catholicism are two very different traditions with some quite disparate theologies. It’s one thing for the Prime Minister to move from Methodism to Anglicanism – Methodism was a break-away from Anglicanism, and the Prime Minister is mute on his religious beliefs – another for a crusader like Rudd.
One of the things that voters like about Howard is that he is a known commodity. If Rudd is to match him, we’re going to need to know a lot more about him. Dangling incongruencies are a risk to this. Rudd needs to lay a lot more of his cards out on the table.

Posted by Graham at 1:45 pm | Comments (7) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. You might like to ask that well placed source what the Ashgrove boys of the time thought of GREG Rudd.
    Sure it was tough, you would have had to be severely disabled to get out playing Rugby, the sort that didn’t stop for everyone to have a bit of a breather with every tackle. Teams went down to the UnderXX F’s if necessary. In those years I don’t think our First XV ever lost a game, including against those flash GPS sooks. They must have been doing something right in their chosen field of endeavour.
    Sure you had to WORK 3 hrs every Saturday morning, go and have a look at the ovals and rainforest built by our hands and sweat all those years ago.
    Sure we had to fit in a study period, and sometimes Mass as well, before breakfast every morning. Sure cadets were compulsory. Sure there were 50 boys to a single room dormitory, with each having about 2 sq metres of personal space, if you could call it that. Oh, and a locker.
    Maybe some of the discipline actually rubbed off on young Kev. I don’t suppose it occurs to the commentariat that even then he was canny enough to realise he was gonna have a better chance of being a Dux in a small town high school, that that was a better career move. And maybe being stuck in such close quarters for 5 years with the dubious scions of Queensland’s Catholic squattocracy wasn’t that appealing, not to mention also being so comprehensively stuck in the same place as brother Greg. If he had the option to give it a miss, well more luck to him I say.
    The other thing is, in those years the curriculum available was narrow in the extreme, (what Art, what Drama?), much to my, (and possibly Kev’s, but he wasn’t in my year, I don’t know whether he was in his year’s ginger group) expressed disgust at the time. At one Old Boy’s Reunion dinner, one of the crows of the time, since risen in the Order’s ranks, reminded me of my complaints and said I’d be pleased to see that has all changed. Even they recognise that one-size-fits-all tough-minded-ruggerism does not a comprehensive education make. Maybe young Kev and his Mum made the right decision in leaving all that behind.
    From the way he is stepping up to the mark, and taking it to the bully-boys of the political ruling classes, on both sides if necessary, it looks like he absorbed the fundamental lesson of that particular establishment: Viriliter Age.
    If you really want to get something useful from your well placed source, find out what position he played on the Rugby field.
    Cheers all, Fred.

    Comment by frederick pottinger — January 29, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  2. Interesting motto – at Villanova it was Vincit Veritas – truth conquers, but then by acting manly the Ashgrove first XV steam-rolled us every year, apart from the one that Andrew Slack was Villa captain.
    I’ll see what my sources think on some of those issues. Didn’t realise there was that much tension between Greg and Kevin. And do you think Kevin was so strategic that he chose schools on the basis of where he might be dux?

    Comment by Graham Young — January 29, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

  3. Did I say there was tension between the Rudd boys? I was just looking for a bit of balance, I haven’t a clue ( regarding that) but I can see in reviewing my post how it reads that way.
    Anyway, a priori, who would want to be stuck with a big brother who sounds like he has a big mouth, picking you for being a mummy’s boy, etc, whenever he gets a chance? Kev oughtta get around and deck him for it. Still I suppose it was all good training for dealing with the likes of the Libs.
    Looks like some things haven’t changed, I see from the school’s wikipedia entry that in 2005 they were “the first college in the southern hemisphere (to be) so dominant in sport, (as to win) all nine aggregate shields”. Suck on that Lauries, Villanova etc.
    Apparently Ashgrove also now know how to flick the switch to vaudeville: same page says they “won the 2006 Rock Eisteddfod Challenge, a large-scale dancing production competition. The college is the first all boys college to win the challenge in Australia. The college has gone onto compete in the national finals which were held via television broadcast and featured on Channel Nine”. Of course they couldn’t take out the big one, what with no girls in the cast, so only managed to come 9th in the national finals. Fortunately Australian showbiz still has some hetero tendencies.
    I am a bit worried about the implications of them putting on an all-singing, all-dancing, all-male show. Hell, if they want homo-eroticism lite, isn’t Rugby enough?
    But back to the substantive: what position did Kev play? That’s all you need to know about a man. Was he lounging around on the wing, waiting to go over thanks to everybody else’s hard work, or was risking it all in those rucks, in the never- slackening battle for possession? I haven’t noticed him having a cauliflowewr ear in any pics.
    While your at it, what position did Johhny-boy play? Maybe he got his tin ear from all those times having to go down on the ball, to keep possession. The way he protects his dud ministers, eg AWB, suggests he’s a master at that part of the game.
    More likely, given his exemplary green and gold track suit work, jumping up from his lounge chair for the cameras at a REPLAY of a soccer goal, suggests it was morre likely linesman, that’s why he’s so good at flag waving. His bowling prowess would indicate the closest he ever came to actually playing cricket would have been as a scorer.
    Look this debating caper is all very well as a lurk for getting out of the frigging school on a Friday night, and getting to talk to some girls, (pointy-heads need a chance to indulge in some real-time competitive behaviour too), but as a way to implement governence of a country it’s got knobs on. Hell, you end up with a parliament full of lawyers, what good’s tha?. Why can’t we settle it on the field?
    Shudder, I’ve just had an image of what it would be like to be a hooker with Kim Il Carr as the opposing tight-head prop, grinding that beard into the side of your face, gruesome and scary. And I’m sure Tony Abbott would be surreptitiously deploying those boxing skills in the rucks. The libs would be at a disadvantage in the pack, now that Mandy has been sent off. Hmmm, Turnbull as five-eighth, wasting try opportunities with show-pony snaps at field goals whenever he’s in range of the posts, after being given perfect quick hands by Janette at half? And what could you do with Lexy Legs? The orange boy with the mostest?
    You gotta admit, it would be way more entertaining than “Order In The House”.
    Cheers all, I’ll get out of your way now, Fred.

    Comment by frederick pottinger — January 30, 2007 @ 11:41 am

  4. I suspect that they didn’t offer Rugby at Howard’s school, Canterbury Boy’s High. If he played football, I imagine it would have been league. That’d be a turn-up for the books – a Labor leader who played rugger and a Liberal leader who played league.

    Comment by Graham Young — January 30, 2007 @ 11:52 am

  5. You’ve convinced me, I know who I’m gonna vote for. And fortunately I’m in Griffith, so I can put a tick up for the man himself, not a blasted party hack.
    I dunno about all this poncy sham-religiousity, but I do know what game they play in heaven. I still grieve for what’s happened with the modern game tho’, they must have got a friggin parliament of lawyers to devise the rules for line-outs.
    Maybe that’s what we need, the Griffith XV vs. the Bennelong XV. Tim Gartrell could get out to the Murrarie meatworks and see if he can’t rustle up a truly awsome pack, the Flash Harries bennelong backline wouldn’t even touch the pill. Didn’t Kev save 600 or so jobs there, by working out a way for management to not have to close up shop? There’ll be more grateful and willing 457 Tongans, Samoans and Kiwis there than you can shake a waihaka at.
    Mind you, there’s a bit of dangerous mongrel in those Macquarie Park streets, judging by the riots. No wait, that was Macquarie fields. More likely those bennelong boy-os would get someone cashed-up from Macquarie Bank to rig the game, as per usual… sounds like a job for big Max M-W.
    That’s it from me, Cheers Fred.

    Comment by frederick pottinger — January 30, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

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