Tasmanian Liberals vote to ditch ‘disgusting, belligerent’ Safe Schools program
ABC, 5 November 2016
A former MP has labelled Safe Schools “disgusting” as Tasmanian Liberal Party members pass a motion at the party’s annual state conference calling for the education program to be abolished.
The federally funded program, which aims to promote the acceptance for sexual diversity, is already planned to finish next year and will be replaced with a state-based anti-bullying program.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff voted against the motion but said the Government’s program would have a broader focus and an emphasis on cyber bullying.
He said the Safe Schools program, which has been rolled out in 20 Tasmanian schools, was going well.
During the debate, former Braddon MP Brett Whiteley spoke strongly against the program.
“This program has nothing, in my view, to do with bullying,” he said.
“This is a disgusting, belligerent, activist tool with a radical left-wing agenda that is unapologetic by those who designed it.”
Labor and the Greens have described the move as “shameful”.
Labor’s Michelle O’Byrne said the party should “hang its head in shame”.
“The fact that this motion to abolish Safe Schools even came up at the Liberal’s conference should give every Tasmanian a very clear picture of where this party and where this Government’s priorities are,” Ms O’Byrne said.
Greens MP Andrea Dawkins said it sent a frightening message to the LGBTI community.
“Safe Schools is a program that helps to create safe and supportive environments for young LGBTI people,” she said.
“It is a critical resource for teachers to help end discrimination and bullying in schools.”
Liberals plan to build female representation
Also at the conference, Premier Will Hodgman said he wanted more women in the Liberal Party and wanted a 50-50 gender balance in Parliament by 2022.
“Until such time as we have 50 per cent or equal representation, we’re not properly reflecting our community,” he said.
“There’s a lot of things that we could do differently that are contemporary, and ways that we can attract women to join the party and take leadership positions and ultimately seek election.
“We need to do things differently — what we’ve done to date hasn’t worked.”
Mr Hodgman said the party had a good track record on putting women in leadership roles, such as making Sue Napier the first female Cabinet minister in 1996 and appointing the first female Speaker, Elise Archer.
But he said more needed to be done to increase numbers.
In order to achieve the target, Mr Hodgman said Parliament needed to be more “family friendly”.
“And ensure that women who want to be involved, particularly who might enter Parliament, are able to do so knowing that if they are parents as well they’re able to balance those challenges,” he said.
The Premier said he would look at other jurisdictions and hold forums to take the first steps in achieving the target.