Greens unleash ideological zeal

The Australian, May 18, 2016.

In the unfortunate event Australians found the Greens in a power-sharing alliance with Labor after July 2, nobody, including party leader Richard Di Natale, could surely expect their absurd proposal to back away from the US alliance, the bedrock of Australia’s strategic policy for 75 years, would ever see the light of day.

The views set out by Senator Di Natale to the Lowy Institute yesterday would better suit a fringe protest group than a professional party. Their pacifist approach would also scuttle the $50 billion submarine project in South Australia. With a quasi-religious fervour, the Greens’ real agenda for the coming parliament also emerged, however, in the form of their “plan for inclusive communities’’, released to mark the “International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia’’.

In supporting “our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities’’, the plan brushed aside the rights of families who would prefer their children to attend school — including religious schools — without being guilt-tripped over the use of “heteronormative’’ words such as ‘‘he’’ and “she’’, wasting time role playing same-sex relationships and repainting zebra crossings in rainbow colours.

Such arrant nonsense has no place in an education system falling behind Asian and other nations in literacy and numeracy. The Coalition modified the Gillard government’s “Safe Schools’’ program after The Australian revealed its content in February. It will not fund it after next year. But the Greens would quadruple its four-year funding to $32 million.

More alarmingly for parents whose children attend religious schools — a third of enrolments — the Greens want the elimination of exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation on religious grounds. All schools should outlaw bullying and instil respect for individuals, regardless of race, faith, gender, or sexual orientation. But the extremes of the so-called queer agenda are anathema to most Australians, who find them ridiculous at best. That includes state school parents, who are entitled to a say in whether the Safe Schools program is taught to their children. The Greens’ eagerness to impose such an agenda amounts to support for rigid social engineering.

By unmasking their real agenda, the Greens have created a cluster of headaches for Labor, which needs to answer hard questions on the issue. Its education spokeswoman, Kate Ellis, talked up the program’s “incredibly important work’’ which was “more important than ever’’ given the government’s plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Ms Ellis would not say if Labor would allocate funding beyond 2017 and if so, whether the modifications made by Education Minister Simon Birmingham would be retained. It also remains to be seen whether other states copy Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, who defied the Coalition’s changes.

Freedom of religious practice has served our society well. And the Greens’ notion that religious schools, that do well academically, should toe a politically correct party line in return for government funding — to which all schoolchildren have a basic right — undermines our tradition as a pluralist, secular nation, built on the Judeo Christian ethic. As a backlash to the not-so-Safe Schools program, Australia does not needs a further upsurge in homeschooling. The Greens’ rejection of religious exemptions under anti-discrimination law would also have serious and costly implications for health and welfare services.

Unlike fervent Greens supporters who share the party’s zeal, mainstream voters, including traditional Labor supporters, do not want such a focus in schools.


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