Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"Our community first..." Oh really?

Carmel Tebbut's Campaign Leaflet

Following NSW Premier Bob Carr's resignation there are a number of NSW bi-elections including one in the electorate of Marrickville. The labor candidate for Marrickville is Carmel Tebbutt who held the portfolio of Education and Training Minister under Premier Carr.

I urge all voters in the Marrickville electorate to consider Tebbutt's record on being "Caring and Committed" before giving your vote to her. As the Minister of Education and Training Minister, Carmel Tebbutt banned an education resource as part of a sex education program that promoted tolerance to gays and lesbians after "The Daily Telegraph" published a story of one parent complaining to the school about the program. Her reaction was to ban the material and claimed "it was inappropriate." Inappropriate to teach tolerance towards people who are not heterosexual Carmel?

Her reaction has drawn criticism from many including the NSW Teachers Federation, President of the Secondary Principals Council, AIDS Council of Australia and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group. More details about this story can be found in Adele Horin's piece in the Sydney Morning Herald and also on the NSW Teachers Federation web site.

The NSW Teachers Federation sent a letter over the action as did the President of the Secondary Principals Council, Chris Bonnor who said in his letter that:

"Teachers and especially PD teachers will see the response of the government as simply a disgraceful act of cowardice. Your reported response is even out of step with readers of the Daily Telegraph. When asked 'do you think this subject matter should be taught in schools?' 80 per cent responded 'yes'. Your response certainly does not align well with other government and DET initiatives for dealing with homophobia."

Tebbutt has made it very clear by her actions that her policies, ostensibly promoting a government that is "Caring & Committed", do not extend to promoting social tolerance to gays and lesbians. Far from reducing the level of homophobia in our society, her actions will reinforce it. How ironic and how disappointing, when Marrickville Council has one of the highest proportions of gays and lesbians than just about any electorate in Australia. So much for putting "our community first" Carmel...

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