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Mark Latham's failure on male teachers.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon John Anderson MP Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of The Nationals

10 March 2004 A32/2004


The Labor Leader, Mark Latham, is just a captive of the unions -- as shown by his decision to oppose the Government's plan to increase the number of male teachers, the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals, John Anderson, said today.

The Government is introducing legislation into Parliament to allow school systems to offer scholarships that will encourage more men to become teachers.

"I have talked about this issue many times, because I represent a number of country towns, and particularly Indigenous communities, which are a microcosm of the social whirlwind we're now having to address," Mr Anderson said.

"The statistics show the problem: the underachievement of boys at school, trouble with the law and male youth suicide rates. Too many boys are unable to relate properly to others because they've not had an effective role model at home.

"An obvious avenue to explore is to find substitute role models for boys who have no father figure at home - or a bad father figure. We can do it by getting more male teachers into schools. It is not an insult to female teachers. They do a great job, and they agree that we need more male teachers in the schoolground.

"Schools have trouble attracting male teachers, and trouble retaining them.

● Only 21 percent of primary school teachers are men;

● In 250 public state schools in New South Wales, the only man on campus is the

gardener; ● Men account for only 24 percent of the students enrolled throughout Australia in

initial teaching courses, and only 19 percent of the students training to become primary school teachers. ● Only 3.6 percent of the students enrolled in early childhood teacher education

courses are men.

"The Catholic schools came up with a sensible plan: a scholarship scheme to encourage more men to become students. The Government thinks it is a great idea, and we have introduced legislation to make it possible.

"We thought the Labor Leader would join us. We thought he'd match his rhetoric with

action. After all, he has declared himself to be a male role model for fatherhood and a champion for young men.

"But he's failed. He's been pulled into line by the education unions, who seem to be opposed to any commonsense measure to improve the situation. He has turned his back on the very qualities of conviction, determination and integrity that we all believe we need to instil in our boys.

"It was very much a case of Mark the mentor, Latham the lionhearted, out there in the political jungle fighting for the boys. But the union movement must be very relieved to have noticed that yet again, one little tug from the union messenger - in this case, the Shadow Education Minister, Jenny Macklin - and suddenly he turned into Mark the mouse," Mr Anderson said.

Media Contacts

Bill McKinley ( Minister Anderson's Office ) 02 6277 7680 / 0407 701 034