Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1379 ..
throughout their childhood. It is an attack on the abilities of teachers and school staff to respond in a positive and affirming way towards young people in their care. And it is an attack on our education system. To properly engage in their education, students must be provided a safe and accepting learning environment, and what others say does make a difference. I hope all members of this place can agree on that much.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (3.09): We certainly will not be opposing this motion today. I thank Mr Pettersson for bringing it forward and I think it makes some important points. I do think though—and I will go into this in my speech—that this is not necessarily the best way that this could have proceeded, given that this is a matter before the New South Wales parliament and currently is in committee there; but that is more of a procedural point with regard to that matter than a substantive one.
This is a bill that has come from One Nation. It is a private member’s bill. To be honest, I had not even heard of it before this motion came on. So it is certainly not something that has engaged the opposition. But now that we are aware of it, I have looked through the speech and certainly the submissions. There are 81 submissions that have been provided and obviously there are a range of views.
One that I thought was worth quoting was from the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of New South Wales and the comments there. In their submission they say:
Public education in New South Wales was founded on the concept of inclusivity. Under this credo NSW schools educate students from all walks of life, irrespective of cultural or religious background or sexuality. This reflects the core of the principles enshrined in the various anti-discrimination laws throughout this nation.
And you could equally say that of the ACT. They go on:
We remind the Committee that under section 4(b) of the Education Act 1990, the education of a child is primarily the responsibility of the child’s parent. We believe this already gives primacy to parents in relation to how their child learns. Parents have always had the right to choose where their child learns, whether that is a public school, religiously focused or even home schooled. Parents also have the right to teach and raise their children in their own views and cultural framework.
And that goes to part of Mr Latham’s bill that was not substantively addressed in Mr Pettersson’s comments. They continue:
The proposed changes open up the potential for a parent to be able to disrupt any part of an approved curriculum that they object to on moral, political, ethical or personal wellbeing grounds. The uncertainty this would create within education could potentially be catastrophic to the delivery of a uniform curriculum, and place schools and teachers in untenable positions.
The insertion of the “provision of an education that is consistent with the moral and ethical standards and the political and social values of parents of students” is essentially unworkable. Considering Australia is a diverse multicultural society,