Eduction expert Kevin Donnelly responds to allegations published by a Labor political insider in Tuesday’s Crikey:

The so-called Labor political insider, in Tuesday’s Crikey, is correct in stating that Philip Morris was a client of
mine and that my company was responsible for developing the “I’ve Got the Power”
program. It needs to be stated, though, that a number of comments made about
that work are factually incorrect:

political insider states:
“The program was aimed at youngsters and supposedly
gave them the power to make the right decision about smoking, ie when is the
best time to start. The program even had a role playing section where students
used peer group pressure to convince someone to smoke! ”

Wrong. The program clearly states that it is designed
to help students “withstand peer group pressure” and at no time suggests that
there is a good time to start smoking. The role playing section centres on
asking students to discuss and act out situations when they are pressured to do
“something wrong” eg “friends trying to get someone to smoke.” The section also
gets students to identify and act out strategies they might use to resist when
being pressured to smoke. The New Zealand version of the program
asks students, when resisting the pressure to smoke, to identify what skills are
needed to make healthy decisions in relation to not

political insider also states:
“Professor Simon Chapman, a leading international
authority on tobacco control and editor of the British Medical Journal’s
research journal, Tobacco Control, has described ‘I’ve Got The Power’ as ‘a
typical tobacco industry sponsored content-free zone where you will search in
vain for any information that actually explains why smoking is harmful.'”

Wrong. While the early versions of the
program do not include health information, the Koori version of ‘I’ve Got the
Power’ has two pages in the teacher’s guide outlining the harmful health impact
of smoking. The Lao PDR version of the program also details the harmful impact
of smoking.

political insider states:
“It now surprises me that Brendan Nelson, who was a
vocal opponent of the tobacco industry when he was AMA President, would take
seriously a report written by Kevin Donnelly.”

The report referred to is the Primary Benchmarking
Report released last week in Sydney and the implication is that I, alone,
wrote the report. Three other academics were involved and those parts of the
report that refer to science, mathematics and phonics and early years of reading
were written by them, not me.

political insider refers to me as ‘Mister.’

Wrong. For what it is worth I have a Masters Degree
and a PhD in curriculum and have spent many years benchmarking curricula both
here and overseas. The other three academics involved in the report have PhDs and
are acknowledged experts in their fields of