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Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Page: 73

Senator MASON (9:03 PM) —The opposition supports Family First’s position on this for three reasons. Proper parliamentary scrutiny of a national curriculum will not, in any case, be possible until it is detailed in regulations to be made in the future by the minister. In other words, as Senator Fielding touched on, it will be impossible for the parliament to assess the ins and outs and the workability of this program until such time as it is detailed in regulations. I just do not think that we can take that on trust. It is not a matter of bad faith in terms of the government at all. It is a matter of workability, and it is very hard for senators of any party to assess the workability of a national curriculum until such time as the program is ordained in regulation.

In addition, there has been some concern and the concern remains, even though I understand Ms Gillard, the Minister for Education, has touched on this in recent times. I know some schools are offering alternative educational philosophies such as Steiner or Montessori schools. They believe they may face great difficulties in meeting the requirements of this clause. I know that Ms Gillard has tried to meet those concerns, but they certainly remain. Thirdly—and Senator Fielding touched on this as well and it is a very good point—the opposition does not believe that there is any need for a national curriculum to be attached to the bill at this stage. A national curriculum will not, in any case, commence until about 2012 and to argue it has to be done here tonight in relation to this bill, I think, is incorrect. For that reason, the opposition will be supporting Family First’s position.