I pay tribute to the contribution made by Sir John Carrick to the education of millions of Australians.


Sir John’s influence on Australia, the Liberal Party and on our education system was wide, extensive and significant.


As a Liberal Senator for NSW and as General Secretary of the NSW branch of the Liberal Party, Sir John was a leader with strong values, bringing conviction to the Liberal belief in individual choice.


Sir John strongly supported the role of parental choice in where families sent their children for school, and that every child should receive a government funding contribution regardless of the school they attended.


Sir John played a leading role persuading the Liberal Party and Sir Robert Menzies to support state aid to non-government schools, particularly to Catholic schools at a time when sectarianism was rife.


The concept of parental school choice is now a fundamental tenet of Australia’s education system with bipartisan support.


It is a strong lasting legacy of Sir John’s.


As Federal Minister for Education, Sir John helped make Australia’s schools and post-school systems the world-class institutions they are today. He appointed the first-ever national review of teacher education, brought together the various post-secondary education commissions under Professor Peter Karmel, initiated the Williams Review of post-secondary education, established new programs covering school-to-work and reformed nurse education and training.


Sir John’s role in education preceded his role as Federal Minister for Education and continued long after he left the Parliament.


That role included Sir John’s work that led to the 1990 NSW Education Act. The guiding principles of that Act remain to this day and reflect Sir John’s views that every child has the right to an education, that families carry a central responsibility for the education of their children and that it is the duty of the state to ensure every child can access an education of the highest quality.


Sir John’s outstanding contribution to modern Australia and to education will continue to live on for many years.


My thoughts and condolences are with Sir John’s children Diane, Jane and Fiona and his family and friends.