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Australian Current Affairs

Australia’s Federal Education Minister banned from schools by state government


Peter Garrett

Peter Garrett

Queensland has banned Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett from visiting two state schools as the row over the Gonski funding changes escalates.

Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek has expressed his concern to Mr Garrett that “schools are being used as political stages,” adding that his Government does not “think this is good for either students or staff”.

An email sent by his office to Mr Garrett’s office makes reference to Prime Minister Julia Gillard‘s visit to a Catholic School in the Brisbane suburb of Bracken Ridge yesterday.

During the visit Ms Gillard launched an attack on Premier Campbell Newman for not signing up to her proposed changes to schools funding.

“Unfortunately Minister Garrett does not have approval to visit either Yeronga State School or Nyanda State High School tomorrow,” the email reads.

“After consultation with the Premier’s office, and taking into account the press conference at a Catholic School in Bracken Ridge today, there is a concern that our schools are being used as political stages.

“We don’t think this is good for either students or staff.”

Mr Garrett has fired back this morning, describing the ban as an “unprecedented act” and a “pretty poor day for democracy in Queensland.”

“It’s absolutely untenable for a government of a state to not permit a national education minister … to participate in the ordinary course of their work,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

Mr Garrett conceded his visits were in the context of a political campaign but argued they were part of the “healthy intercourse of political debate” that goes on in Australia.

He has now cancelled the visits.

The row comes after a Labor fundraising event in Perth, featuring Prime Minister Julia Gillard and British comedian Ben Elton, had to be moved after an independent public school scrapped plans to host it.

The event was to be held at John Curtin College of the Arts in Fremantle, with tickets costing up to $250.

But the school cancelled the event yesterday, with WA‘s Education Minister saying his department had only just become aware it was a Labor fundraiser.

Ms Gillard says she accepts that there has been a long-standing policy in WA that means federal politicians cannot visit state schools.

However, she says it is a different matter in Queensland.

“That’s a naked political act and it just seems to me that if you can’t win the argument about school improvement and school funding, somehow you lock people out of schools and prevent them putting the argument,” she said.

“As a nation I think we’re a lot lot better than that and that conduct is truly objectionable by Premier Newman.”

Source: ABC News – Education Minister Peter Garrett banned from Queensland schools in row over Gonski funding
 
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