Minister not the first to talk up qualifications

WHAT is it with the cavalcade of Queensland political types who've been caught out over the years embellishing their education and experiences?

Sure, who hasn't gilded the lily a bit on their resume to land a job?

But there's something particularly puzzling - there might even be a real master's degree in it - about the propensity of those who seek the limelight of high office to inflate their previous circumstances.

Is it an unbridled ego or a lack of self-worth that makes them risk being publicly shamed for falsifying their records?

The psychopathy which drives this destructive compulsion would have been a field day for Freud.

The latest case about a bit of alleged background embroidering emerged this week involving senior State Labor Government figure Grace Grace. She's the Education Minister, no less.

On her official biography Ms Grace credits herself with having a "master's/graduate diploma level" qualification after completing the Harvard Trade Union Program.

That certainly sounds all very official and important, right?

Turns out all she did was a 10-week course on trade unions many years back, gaining a "certificate of completion" in the end, which hardly seems comparable to the years of toil people put into gaining a real master's degree.

The head of the Harvard program, Alida Castillo, says it's comparable to other executive leadership courses "but the program itself is not a master's degree program".

And the program's current research director John Trumpbour, who has taught participants for two decades, concurred when he got in touch, although he added "it is no picnic for the Labor leaders".


Education Minister Grace Grace is still arguing the toss.
Education Minister Grace Grace is still arguing the toss.


Yet the affable Ms Grace has dug her heels in, as she's wont to do, with a bit a bet-both-ways defence of her biography.

She's insisted it doesn't specifically say she has a master's or a graduate diploma degree, and the course she completed 27 years ago was very different to the one run today.

The Minister even managed to misrepresent the alleged misrepresentation when the matter became a plaything of her political opponents in State Parliament.

"I have never used any letters after my name," she harrumphed.

"The Parliament website says, and I quote, 'graduate master's degree-level Harvard trade union program'."

Well, that's not quite right either. But maybe that's just nitpicking.

Despite casting herself as a stickler for standards, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who actually does have the arts and law degrees that adorn her biography, didn't see a problem.

She described Ms Grace's response as a solid explanation.

However, the Premier had a very different attitude after The Courier-Mail also caught out former Newman government MP-turned-federal candidate Trevor Ruthenberg a couple of years back for falsely claiming he had a prestigious military medal.

"I think it's incredibly disappointing to see someone who essentially did not tell the truth," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"I think there would be many people at the Bribie RSL that would be shocked and dismayed that someone would have taken this action."

Well maybe real master's students at the cafes of QUT, which is in Ms Grace's electorate, will now be just as miffed.

Regardless, these episodes have a way of lingering in the collective memory given most voters have a narrow view of politicians to begin with.


Would-be Liberal candidate Seb Monsour didn’t actually play for the Reds.
Would-be Liberal candidate Seb Monsour didn’t actually play for the Reds.


Who could forget former Liberal candidate Seb Monsour, who blamed overzealous media scrutiny when he quit the race for Ashgrove in 2006 after it was revealed his biography gave the false impression he'd played for the Queensland Reds.

He hadn't.

Before that there was Howard government defence minister and Brisbane MP John Moore, whose biography for years boasted about playing in the Wimbledon tennis final until he admitted that wasn't quite correct.

Like the size of that fish that once got away, all these stories began with a nugget of truth that gradually got aggrandised over time.

Ms Grace first made her Harvard claim in 2007 after winning one of Queensland's weirdest ever by-elections to replace Peter Beattie when the pathetic Liberals couldn't even rustle up a candidate.

She got passed over repeatedly for ministerial duties in the two terms that followed.

Maybe there's something in all that. Who knows.

But for now Ms Grace is holding on tight to the claim that her 10-week course was commensurate with a master's level qualification and she has no intention of altering it.

And if that's OK for someone in high office, I might make a couple of minor amendments to my own CV, should I ever have cause to use it.

I'll add to it that I "attend to QUT" which is technically true, although it's to pick up burritos rather than a bachelor degree.

I've also got something that confirms I'm the "world's best dad", a back scratcher I received for Father's Day.

A resume like that might even be good enough to one day get me elected.


Howard government minister and Brisbane MP John Moore didn’t actually play in the finals at Wimbledon.
Howard government minister and Brisbane MP John Moore didn’t actually play in the finals at Wimbledon.




Originally published as Minister not the first to talk up qualifications