Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview with Ben Fordham - 2GB Radio

Ministers:

The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Education and Youth

Subjects: Draft National Curriculum, Anzac Day.

 

BEN FORDHAM:

Alan Tudge, the Federal Education Minister’s on the line. Minister, good morning to you.

ALAN TUDGE:

Good morning, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM:

Can I just get something clear here? This is the draft curriculum. Do you get a say in what the final curriculum is?

ALAN TUDGE:

I do. This is being developed by the Australian Curriculum Authority, which is an independent body, jointly owned by the Federal Government and each of the state and territory governments. When they finalise their work, they present it up to me and to Sarah Mitchell and the other state and territory education ministers. I will certainly not be supporting a curriculum document which has Anzac Day as a contested idea. Ben, Anzac Day is the most sacred day in our calendar, where we properly commemorate the 100,000 people who died for our freedoms and the million others who served for our country. It’s not going to be a contested idea on my watch.

BEN FORDHAM:

There’s a danger here that you’re going to have young people growing up without understanding the Anzac legend, without respecting the Anzac legend, and there’s also a degree of hatred that could develop as well, when you’ve got people who are being told something other than what we all know and we all understand.

ALAN TUDGE:

I think that’s exactly right. To be honest, I’m so disappointed in the draft history curriculum in particular, because it’s not just about Anzac Day which is presented as a contested idea, rather than a sacred day to be studied and learnt. There’s 19 other occasions when ideas are presented as contested ideas. And the overall presentation of our history is such a miserable, negative view of our history. Whereas, all of us know that we live in the greatest country in the world, where millions of people have come here and they’ve come here for a reason. And it's because of the vibrant, wealthy, egalitarian, free society that we are. Kids need to understand that, understand the origins of that, so that they'll properly defend it as previous generations have done.

BEN FORDHAM:

There's also the issue of mixed messages too, because you'll have mums and dads who will be educating their kids on Anzac Day, as we do in our household, about why it's such an important day. You tell them your version of Anzac Day and then all of a sudden they go off to school and they come home to mum and dad and say, hang on a moment, I'm being told something completely different here at school.

ALAN TUDGE:

Yeah, I think that's exactly right. We just can't have this and it's offensive to the diggers, and all of our veterans. Ben, I reckon 99.9 per cent of Australians properly understand the importance of Anzac Day. I'm from Melbourne, you go to the MCG on Anzac Day and you have 100,000 people silent. You could hear a pin drop because of the respect of that day and what it means. So let's not be teaching our kids that this is a contested idea and some fringe elements of our society don't like it and think it's war mongering or whatever they think; it's not. It's a proper commemoration and thank you to the people who have served for us.

BEN FORDHAM:

While we're discussing what's being taught to kids in schools, the book Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, which has now been debunked by so many experts, saying there's information in the book which is plainly wrong. Why is that book still in school libraries?

ALAN TUDGE:

That's a very good question. It got a lot of traction, as you know because I think it suited a leftist narrative and so got into the education establishments. As you point out, some of the most respected anthropologists in the nation who you'd never describe as hard-core conservatives, they have debunked this book and said, let’s not reinvent history here. Let's just teach history as it properly was. We should teach Indigenous history properly as a very rich and vibrant culture before Europeans arrived in this country. Quite rightly, we should be teaching that, and we should be teaching about some of the discomfort and some of the dispossession which occurred since European arrivals. Let's not reinvent history with books like Dark Emu.

BEN FORDHAM:

So if the facts are wrong in the book, why is it in school libraries? Shouldn't it be removed?

ALAN TUDGE:

That's a good question.

BEN FORDHAM:

But what's the answer to the question? I want you to answer the question?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well the answer to the question is that it could be there, but with clarification over it, or it should not be in those school libraries. 

BEN FORDHAM:

We appreciate your time this morning.

ALAN TUDGE:

It’s not an accurate view of our history according to the most respected anthropologists in the country.

BEN FORDHAM:

No, I know. But that's why, there's an obvious thing here, if we've got concerns about what's being taught to our kids. If you've got a fake history that's being taught to our kids about something as important as our Indigenous history, and there are plenty of Indigenous leaders too, who say, you know what? We're proud of the fact that we were hunter gatherers, and that's kind of been airbrushed somehow in this book to suggest, oh no, they were farmers. They kind of said to me, and I've spoken to Indigenous people who say, no, hunter-gatherers were in many ways smarter than farmers because they moved where the food moved and they moved as the weather changed. So if there's a false history being taught to our kids about Indigenous history, why aren't we removing the book?

ALAN TUDGE:

We should be, Ben, we should be. If those are in libraries and they're being, you know, offered to kids as the truth, then they should be removed.

BEN FORDHAM:

We appreciate that clarification. We'll talk to you soon.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thanks very much, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM:

Alan Tudge, the Education Minister.