House debates

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Questions without Notice


3:00 pm

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Education and Youth. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is working to ensure that the proposed Australian Curriculum will achieve a higher overall standard of educational achievement in Australia, uphold Australian values and encourage greater engagement in civic life?

3:01 pm

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Youth) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Berowra for his question. We live in the greatest country in the world. We are one of the wealthiest, most free, safest and most egalitarian countries on earth. We offer unlimited opportunities for those people who want to work hard and get ahead. We are so attractive as a nation that millions of people across the world have immigrated to this country. They have come to our shores to make this nation, Australia, their home. But you would not think that this is such a great country if you were reading the draft history curriculum which is out for consultation as part of the review of the national curriculum today. In fact, when you read the full 84 pages of the draft history curriculum, there are not many great things said about our country at all. Anzac Day itself is presented as a contested idea. If you read through the full 1,700 pages of the draft curriculum, you wouldn't necessarily come out with a deep understanding that we are the fantastic liberal democracy that we are today.

We have to do better than this. The national curriculum goes to the heart of what children are taught—not just the content but also the values which are embedded in that and the standards which come about from this. We shouldn't have a negative view of our history. We absolutely have had tough times in the past, which we need to reconcile ourselves with, and students should learn about that. But, fundamentally, students should come out of school with a love of this nation and what we have achieved together. They should understand our deep Indigenous history, they should understand our deep British foundations which set the scene for our great democracy, built on Judeo-Christian values, and they should understand our fantastic multicultural character, which has come about in previous decades because of waves of immigrants arriving here.

Equally, the curriculum needs to lift our overall education standards for this country because, over the last 20 years, sadly, our education standards have declined. A 15-year-old today is 12 months behind where a 15-year-old was 20 years ago. The curriculum sets the benchmark standards, and we want to see those standards lift. There have been some positive improvements overall in the draft national curriculum, but we have to do better, and that's what we're going to be looking for as I work with the states and territories to see that achieved. I hope that those opposite will equally share this vision that we have for this national curriculum—for higher standards to be set, for a love of country to be embedded in the history and the civics, and for people to come out wanting to participate in our great— (Time expired)