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Gillard gag order suppresses dissent.

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MEDIA RELEASE Gillard Gag Order suppresses dissent

The Federal Government’s guidelines that gag Australian principals from talking about the so-called ‘Computers in schools’ fiasco is just another example of Labor’s obsession with secrecy, said Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne today.

“Principals being forced to sign contracts promising not to speak out about government education funding follows hot on the heels of the gag clause in the guidelines for the Rudd Government’s Building the Education Revolution, or the ‘Bloody Evil Revolution’ as it has been dubbed by some principals,’ Mr Pyne said today.

“Ms Gillard’s office have admitted they drafted this clause to stop their policy ‘from being brought into disrepute’.

“I hate to break the news to Julia Gillard: it is not principals speaking out that would bring this policy into disrepute - it is the incompetence of the Rudd Government.

“The Computers in Schools program has more than doubled in cost in eighteen months, from $1 billion to $2.2 billion, and they have barely managed to get any computers sitting on desks and working. When the computers finally arrive, the Government’s failure to deliver

adequate broadband connections means that these computers will be obsolete by the time they are connected to the internet in seven or eight years time.

“Senate Estimates in June revealed that six months after Round 2 of this program was announced, only 16% of computers had hit the desks.

“Rather than fix their mistakes, the Government’s response has been to gag Principals from speaking out on behalf of their angry school communities: this from a Minister for Education who just last year said one of the key goals in education was ‘transparency and accountability’.

“Last month I called on Ms Gillard in Parliament to guarantee there will be no repercussions for principals who spoke out on the BER. She refused to provide that guarantee, and now we find that the Gillard Gag Order has been extended to Computers in Schools.

“The Coalition has had to establish the website to provide a safe anonymous forum for education debate.

“This Government’s attempts to control media spin and suppress bad news is out of control,’ Mr Pyne said.

“Australia needs a full-time Education Minister who can fix the problems in our schools - not just silence discussion of them.”

July 16, 2009 Media contact: Adam Howard 0400 414 833