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Speech: Australian Education Legislation Amendment (Prohibiting the Indoctrination of Children) Bill 2020

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 1 Sep 2020

I rise on behalf of the Greens to speak to the Australian Education Legislation Amendment (Prohibiting the Indoctrination of Children) Bill 2020 which has been introduced by Senator Hanson of One Nation. The bill amends the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority Act 2008 to require ACARA to ensure that school education provides what the bill refers to as 'a balanced presentation of opposing views on political, historical and scientific issues'. It also amends the Australian Education Act 2013 to make financial assistance to states and territories conditional on them having certain laws enforced that would also prohibit what Senator Hanson calls 'indoctrination' in schools.

The Greens vehemently oppose this bill. This bill is transphobic. This bill is antiscience. This bill has nothing to do with historical issues that Senator Hanson wants to talk about. Let's start at first principles. There is no doubt that there is benefit in ensuring that Australian schooling exposes students to diverse viewpoints and to diverse perspectives and enriches them through a comprehensive education. Students benefit from having their thinking challenged and from considering ideas and subjects through multiple lenses. But let's be clear that ensuring this is not the intention nor the anticipated outcome of this piece of legislation that we are debating here today. This is a dangerous and pathetic piece of legislation. There is no more or less to say about it. It is an attempt to force a rewrite of the curriculum to require teaching of climate denialism and harmful conservative ideas of gender and sexuality.

Senator Hanson's tabled second reading speech on this bill was not given much attention at the time—and probably for good reason—but, reading it back and listening to the senator this morning, it's clear how much of this push for so-called balance is driven by her contempt for transgender people. This is nasty stuff. This bill is pretty hate filled, and it will hurt and damage our LGBTIQ community. Here is the right-wing victim complex at its most paranoid and on display for all to see. Senator Hanson seems convinced that our schools are brainwashing children by teaching them about the science of climate change, for instance. Senator Hanson honestly believes that sinister education department officials are plotting to turn our children into communists and revolutionaries.

This bill is nothing more than a publicity stunt and a poorly considered attempt to bully teachers and curriculum developers into feeling they aren't doing their jobs unless they jam the curriculum full of right-wing conspiracy theories. Obviously neither Senator Hanson nor anyone in this chamber has any direct power over what goes into the curriculum. The curriculum should be based on independent evidence and expertise, not Senator Hanson's latest bigoted thought bubble. As for Senator Chandler, there is absolutely no reason for parents to be concerned about what is being taught in schools. I think this should be very clear to every person in this chamber.

This belongs nowhere but in the bin. Senator Hanson's spurious claims that human-caused climate change is unsubstantiated and that schools teach gender fluidity and realignment to infants can go with this bill in the bin. It's vital that every child learns the reality of the climate crisis, the truth of Australia's settler colonial past and how to have respectful relationships in the context of comprehensive sex education in schools. Teachers, working with educational experts, do a great job of supporting students, often working without the resources they need. They certainly don't need One Nation's meddling and bullying. The Greens oppose this bill.


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