Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022


Australian Education Legislation Amendment (Prohibiting the Indoctrination of Children) Bill 2020; Second Reading

9:47 am

Photo of Gerard RennickGerard Rennick (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

You haven't heard what I'm going to say yet, so could you please stop interjecting.

Some of the comments in here about hatred and all of that are totally unfounded. There seems to be a big missing ingredient here in terms of transgender children, and that is the role of the parent. I've got children. If they have issues about their sexuality—and I've said this before—I will deal with it with a properly trained psychologist outside of school hours.

With the greatest of respect to teachers—and I have great respect for teachers—they've got enough on their plate. They're not necessarily qualified or trained to deal with these issues. This is not just about sexuality; this is obviously about the way the child feels. And the parents need to have a role in this. When this becomes something that's dealt with in the school, without the actual parents having any oversight of what's going on, that's when this becomes an issue, because I strongly believe in the role of parents. I'm a parent myself. As said before, rightly, teachers often follow the curriculum, but the point is that a lot of this curriculum is made by bureaucrats who work in government circles. So it is a government issue.

Personally, I'd be much happier if teachers didn't have the bureaucrats and the curriculum telling them what to do and if we let teachers actually deal with the students. They are the ones who know how to deal with the students the best. They know the student and the parents, so I'd rather keep the bureaucrats and the curriculum right out of it altogether. I accept the comments from over there before, because teachers are told to follow the curriculum and I don't like that. Most teachers I know genuinely have the interests of the child at heart. But I believe that education is a three-way thing. It's between the teacher, the parent and the child, and it's very important that the parent has interaction with the teacher as well as the child so that parents know what's going on.

In reply to one of those other comments that we have to teach them climate science, I disagree with that remark as well. We have to teach them science, and that involves all aspects of science, including mathematics, which underpins a lot of science. We say that we teach them climate science when most of it is actually based on modelling and not based on the traditional methods of demonstrating cause and effect and quantifying cause and effect. I know myself from when I've had to dig out my own school textbooks when dealing with climate science that the science of heat is actually called thermodynamics. You deal with quantum mechanics with the photons, which come from the sun. So to teach them all about climate science and how the world's going to suddenly overheat by two degrees in the next 10 years without actually teaching them the foundations of basic science, basic mathematics et cetera, is a very dangerous thing. That's why we've got to come back to basics. I'm not having a go—maybe that's in the curriculum; I haven't read it.

I will touch on one other thing. I've often been criticised by people saying that I'm in no position to talk about the Bureau of Meteorology and their record keeping—what would I know when I'm not a scientist? That goes to show how the slogan 'science' is used way too often to justify any argument. At the end of the day, taking a temperature measurement and recording that data is actually record keeping. It's got nothing to do with science. It is simply about recording the temperature, storing that and then not going back and changing it 100 years later because it doesn't suit your agenda. The Bureau of Meteorology admitted in this recent round of estimates that they've got four different datasets. They've homogenised three and they've got the raw dataset, which rarely ever gets reported anymore.

Long story short, some of the comments in here today, I think, have tried to politicise the very thing that they think the bill is trying to do. Quite frankly, I want ideology out of education altogether, whether it's right wing or left wing. I don't really care. I just want children to be children, and I want the primacy of the parent to remain in their upbringing. It's the relationship between the parent, the child and the teacher that matters the most. I was an older father, and I took a couple of years off to stay at home. This is why I really believe in, ideally, having a stay-at-home parent. I know, when I used to go and pick my children up from school, I saw the teacher—not every day, but often you'd see them—at three o'clock. If you ever had an issue, you could just speak to them informally about it. You got to know the parents of other children in the class. You got to go drinking with some of them.

At the end of the day, I don't want education to be something pushed down from above by the bureaucrats, many of whom do have agendas or preset ideology. I want children to be children. I want the primacy of the family and the interaction of the community both in there. I went up and I read to children. My wife still goes up. I'll give a shout-out to Story Dogs—that's where, basically, you take your dog into the classroom. A big shout-out to Rocket; she loves that. It basically helps children feel comfortable because they've got a pet there. That's that community. I should acknowledge my own father, who was chair of the kindergarten P&C for about four years and then chair of the state high school in Chinchilla for about another seven years. It's very, very important to have your community be heavily involved with education, likewise with fetes, tuckshops and all of those types of things. Of course, you've got P&C meetings. I myself, for a short time, was president of my own son's school P&C. That's why I wanted to speak today. As I said, I'm not interested in the bill—well, I am to the extent that I want the bureaucrats and government out of education and I want education to be a grassroots thing driven by the love of the teachers for their children. I know teachers become very fond of their children. I have great memories of my own teachers.

I should also acknowledge my great-great-aunt, who got a Bachelor of Arts in 1920 from the University of Queensland. She went on to teach maths and physics at All Hallows' School in Brisbane and has now got the hall named after her. She taught maths and physics till age 70. My own grandmother, my great-great-aunt's niece, got a Bachelor of Arts in 1930 and went on to be a teacher. She taught before the war and after the war. My own aunt was also a teacher and became a librarian. Unbeknownst to me, when I went to the University of Queensland, I was actually a fourth-generation graduate of the University of Queensland. I only realised later on that they were all women above me who got a degree—unlike my grandfather who dropped maths in the Public Service exam in New South Wales in 1911 and went back to being a farmer. I'll just throw that in.

Education is very important, but it has to be driven by the individual needs of the students, and I think that's what matters. I just want government out of our everyday lives, and I want families and communities and grassroot measures to look after our children. Every child is precious and every child is an individual. That is one of the reasons why I am very proud to be in the LNP—because it's about the dignity and worth of every individual and it's about the family values. The family is the basis of all things here. That is why I don't want any of this talk about how we're all doing this for hate and we've got political agendas. I have no political agenda. I want politics right out of raising my children. I want them to have the best childhood they can without the toxicity of politics.

I even say to kids in the Young LNP: 'Don't get into the Young LNP. Do yourself a favour and go and listen to Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon, where it says:

… ten years have got behind you

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

Even in your 20s, I don't want you being involved in politics. When you're in your 20s, go out and get drunk, get to understand women better, get rich and travel the world. Come back to politics when you're in your 40s and you've lived a life and you can actually throw yourself into it. That's the thing. It's this slow creep of government, whether it's in education or whatever it is. We just want government out of our lives, and we want the innocence of childhood to stay just like it is.


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