Most Queenslanders imagine that the Brisbane Boys Grammar School resting on the hill of ye olde Brisbane town, just around the corner from the place where the sons of working class Catholics forced to filch a pheasant from the landowners estate once by foot ground the wheat for their master’s bread on a treadmill, is an institution with laws unto itself; a place like the estates of the not too distant past where the sons of posh toffs were sent to be educated under rules set by rich old boys from the top end of town who – like ruling elites all the world over – answer only to themselves and can do whatever the f*ck they like with their college, its management and its funds.
Most people would be mistaken.
Brisbane Grammar is in fact a school established under a law known as the Grammar Schools Act 1975, which in the year of The Dismissal replaced the Grammar Schools Act of 1860, the fourth piece of legislation passed by the very first parliament elected when Queensland became a state rather than a colony, although of course the Pineapple Land did temporarily and unofficially partially regress and become a colonoscopy during the Joh years.
Funnily enough – or not, as the case may be – it was during the colonoscopy years that the Queensland Government moved a special amendment to provide for the early payment of lump-sum superannuation benefits for teachers at Grammar, which was curious because there was only one teacher known to be seeking them.
His name was Kevin Lynch.
There’s a story to be told there, and it’s directly linked to the wholesale government and police corruption of the day, and is a tale that includes blackmail, extortion, bribery and the wholesale protection of pedophilia, and I know a bloke who’s working right now on a project to expose it. If and when and he does the lid’s going to blow on this scandal of epic proportions like the top blew off the crater of Krakatoa, mark my words and don’t you worry about that.
Although that’s a story for another day, Lynch is also pivotal to the short tale I want to share with you this morning.
This tale is about Brisbane Grammar’s point blank refusal to refund the school fees paid to the school by parents who suffered the totally preventable misfortune of having both their trust and their beloved sons abused by the pedophile whilst in the care of what they believed in their ignorance to be Brisbane’s best school for young lads.
These parents – and sadly they number in the hundreds – paid today’s equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Grammar to educate and protect their kids, and to help them grow into fine young men. Instead, whether by negligence or design – and despite the limp biscuit findings in Case Study 34 of the Child Abuse Royal Commission, the jury is well and truly still out, believe me – Grammar allowed the children of these well-meaning Mums and Dads to be horrifically abused to the extent that their lives have been subsequently damaged on a wholesale level.
In 1602 a man named John Slade took and – after 5 years of legal battling ultimately won – a case against a chap named Humphrey Morley, who had promised to buy a motza of grain from him but reneged. Slade claimed that Morley had struck a contract to buy the grain, had failed to fulfil his end of the bargain, and thus owed him the agreed price of the primary produce.
The King’s Bench agreed, and thus the common law action of assumpsit; essentially a breach of contract by way of unfulfilled promise, either express or implied , was born and forms the basis of a law continuing unto this day that says that if you promise to do something you will do exactly that something.
The promise holds whether it is made either straight up – in terms of boasts along the lines of ‘we will provide your child with a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious education that will enable him to become a bodacious and highly successful dude – or alternatively, by making clearly obvious undertakings such as ‘and as part of doing so we will of course keep him safe from harm by pedophile predators who may desire to rape him in the school counselor’s office located next door to that of the headmaster’s’, or both.
It’s pretty straight forward isn’t it: if you promise then you must deliver, or else you can be sued for your failure to serve up what you undertook to offer.
Of course the basic elements of a contract – offer, acceptance, consideration – must be present for the deal to be legally formed, and in Grammar’s case there can be no doubt that they were.
Offer – We invite you to enrol your kid at our school.
Acceptance – Yeah sure, here’s the completed enrolment form and here’s the kid, dressed in a ridiculous shirt, tie and old fashioned hat at the age of 11.
Consideration – Here’s 40 grand a year for his school fees; thank you very much, here’s his place in year 8.
The contract is formed and effective, until of course it is breached, broken, smashed, severed and absolutely obliterated when the Headmaster adds at the parent-teacher interview:
‘Oh, and by the way, have I introduced you to the school counselor Mr Lynch? He’s here to help kids with minor adolescent issues overcome them, and enable them through rape therapy replete with oil, towels and dick measurements to reach their full potential as highly functioning and prolifically productive human beings’.
When you reduce the supposed legal technicalities to simple layman’s language as I have just done then any imbecile can clearly see that Brisbane Boys Grammar School have demonstrably and profoundly breached their contract with the parents of students who were abused at the school by Lynch (or by Gregory Masters, or Colin Bird tuned Lamont – now there’s a new name for you punters – or by Max Howell or Ronald Cochrane or David Coote or any one of the multitude of Grammar employees who raped kids either directly or indirectly by knowing and doing nothing, or worse).
So why won’t Grammar simply cop the raw prawn that the school peeled for itself and, more importantly, for the boys whose innocence – and in many cases lives – were stolen and their parents whose trust was not simply breached but rather flagrantly massacred, and simply refund the school fees that were paid in reliance upon what subsequently proved were to have been false promises?
The simple answer – as incredible and unpalatable as it is after all the plaintive pleas of regret made by the the school’s Chairman Howard Stack at the Child Abuse Royal Commission – is that Stack was lying through his teeth.
Brisbane Boys Grammar doesn’t give a flying f*ck about the suffering of the rape victims and their families. Still, despite hearing the tales of anguish and pain bravely recounted by the kids it allowed to be abused and the parent’s whose hearts the school management drove a stake through, all that Grammar cares about is protecting is protecting its legal position.
To refund the school fees the parents paid would be to admit culpability for the crimes that were perpetrated against their kids.
And we can’t have that, can we old chap?
It makes me f*cking sick.
But do you know what makes me feel even sicker? So ill that I feel a physical pain that spreads through my aging body and makes me want to throw myself to the floor and retch uncontrollably?
The Queensland Government is on the act.
Our elected representatives – the absolute dogs that we trudge down to the ballot boxes every four years to vote for on the promise that they will represent the interests of the people – have the power to force Brisbane Boys Grammar to right this wrong. To put their hands up and say ‘Mea Culpa. It was us; we allowed this to happen; we are to blame’ and to set it right.
Yet they don’t.
Despite the endless uttering of what ultimately are nothing but craven weasel words about the horrors of child sexual abuse, our parliamentarians stand silent when it comes to Brisbane Boys Grammar abusing these once under-age victims of crime and their families again and again and again by refusing to acknowledge responsibility for the horrors inflicted at an by their school. Our elected representatives say nothing, pretending that the resolution lays solely in the hands of the school.
Like Howard Stack they lie.
The Premier lies.
The Education Minister lies.
Each and every member of the Queensland Parliament lies.
They all lie.
Brisbane Grammar School is governed by a board of trustees that has the supreme decision making powers in relation to the finances, conduct and management of the school. This board – a statutory body constituted under the Grammar Schools Act 1975 and empowered by same – runs the school: it sets the fees, it buys and sells the property and land, it invests the funds, it decrees the school laws and by-laws, it hires and fires the headmasters, and it makes the decisions whether or not to refund the school fees paid by the parents of victims of criminal child sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the school’s staff.
There are seven positions on the Board of Trustees.
Three are filled by representatives elected by subscribers to the school; parents, donors, sponsors, pedophiles who make cash contributions to the schools coffers even.
The other four board positions – the simple majority voting bloc on any matter that comes before the trustees – are appointed by the Queensland Government, via the office of the Education Minister Kate Jones.
Kate Jones – a mother of a young boy, a woman who proclaims loudly on her electoral website that every child, no matter where they live, deserves the right to the best education we can provide – directly appoints 4 of the 7 members of the board that governs the Brisbane Grammar School.
The Education Minister has the power to intervene in the management of the school when they become aware of a matter that potentially affects the financial viability of the school.
Potentially being subjected to more than 100 legal claims for breach of contract – for breach of the express and implied duties of mutual trust that form the heart of any contract between a parent and the institution they put their faith in to protect and educate their child – is a matter that potentially impacts on the finances of the Brisbane Boys Grammar School.
Kate Jones – the Minister who declares that restoring trust in government is one of the key challenges that must be addressed by the current parliament – has the power to intervene in the affairs of the school.
More so, upon becoming aware of foreseeable events that may impact upon the financial viability of the school the Education Minister has the legislative power under the Grammar Schools Act 1975 to intervene in the governance of the school, and to order the Board of Trustees of the school to take certain actions to address the Minister’s concerns.
Actions such as forestalling the potential litany of lawsuits by simply refunding the school fees paid by the deeply traumatised and eternally guilt-ridden parents who wanted nothing but for their sons to do well, but ended up in a Dante-like inferno of Hell.
Kate Jones can fix all this, in an instant. All it would take is courage, a commitment to principle. and the will to do what is morally, ethically and legally right. Yet Jones fiddles as the victim’s families Rome burns: the whole of the House of Broken Dreams strumming a solemn dirge to denial in the orchestra of indifference to her rear.
Sad songs, they say so much, but the sound of sonoluminescence says so much more.
May the charred carcasses of this quivering clutch of craven cowards that we so carelessly call our government be thrown upon the pyre of their prevarication alongside the scorched skeletons of the sexually abused innocents that these charlatans charged with protecting their souls have so callously and cynically scorned.
We cry a thousand tears as the realisation dawns that Tom Joad died along with our innocence, and that only the ghosts of his compassion remain. And if there’s no-one left to rage against the machine, who’s going to stop it from eating us all?