The Prime Minister has warned his ministers to mind their language ahead of the Government’s Safe Schools response
Mar 17, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
The Prime Minister has called for calm ahead of the Government’s response to a review of the controversial Safe Schools program.
Malcolm Turnbull has urged his party to avoid divisive language over the education resource, which is designed to tackle homophobia in schools.
Conservative elements in the Liberal Party forced a review of the program in February over claims it sexualises young children.
The review, completed by University of Western Australia Emeritus Professor Bill Louden, has recommended a number of amendments but has not called for the scrapping or defunding of the $8 million program.
Now the Government has the task of responding to the review, which Christian lobbyists have already branded “A joke” and “a stitch-up” for what they claim is its limited scope and failure to address their concerns.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has warned the Prime Minister not to give in to the “bullies of the extreme right”.
“It’s time for to stand up for vulnerable young teenagers,” he said.
“Mr Turnbull, stop following your party, start leading it.”
Right-wing MPs have levelled some extraordinary accusations at the Safe Schools program, George Christensen comparing it to grooming children for paedophilia and Senator Cory Bernardi claiming it indoctrinates students into Marxist ideology.
During question time in Canberra today, Mr Turnbull said “All members expressing views on this program should choose their words carefully and remember the impact their statements can have on young people and their families.”
Some 43 backbench MPs have signed a petition calling for suspension of Safe Schools pending the results of a broader parliamentary enquiry.
Among them is former PM Tony Abbott, whose Government oversaw the introduction of the program in 2014.
Education minister Simon Birmingham has so far rejected the call for a broader enquiry.
“I would urge everybody to hold fire in terms of thinking about what else might be necessary until they’ve seen that government response,” he said.
“We are going to support students who need that support but also make sure that parents have the confidence in the appropriateness of the resources that are supplied.”
Many state leaders and education ministers have expressed support for Safe Schools, with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews vowing that if funding is cut for the program his government will step in and make up the shortfall in Victoria.
The Government’s response to the Safe Schools review is due in the next week.
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