Interview on 2GB Sydney Live with Ben Fordham
Topics: Eureka flag in schools

Ben Fordham: Well, as if our children need any more distractions from their grades, they could now be bombarded with union propaganda in classrooms. The Teachers’ Union in Queensland has vowed to splash the Eureka Stockade flag across schools in solidarity with the militant CFMEU. That’s the union whose members were accused of threatening to rape the children of colleagues who refused to join their strike. Now the CFMEU has roped in the Teachers’ Union to help them protest against the construction watchdog because it banned the Eureka flag from all building sites. And as part of the protest, teachers will be given stickers emblazoned with the flag, to stick on diaries or books that they use in class. The Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham joins me live on the line.

Minister, good afternoon.

Simon Birmingham: G’day, Ben. Good to be with you.

Ben Fordham: I mean, come on. Fair’s fair. You’ve got to keep this stuff out of the classroom, right?

Simon Birmingham: Look, people would rightly be wondering what on earth the Teachers’ Union’s priorities are when this is the type of [indistinct] they come up with. Now, classrooms are learning environments. They’re not for politicising the students who are there. I think you and I have had this discussion before when, in Victoria, the Teachers’ Union started talking about supporting teachers who wanted to wear t-shirts about closing the camps and pro-refugee t-shirts. Now, up in Queensland we’ve got the Queensland Teachers’ Union wanting to go down this path. Now, the very clear message that I get time and time again from parents around the country, is that state governments in managing schools have to lead and that is keep the policies out of the classroom.

Ben Fordham: Shouldn’t the Teachers’ Union be standing up for that point? Shouldn’t they be the ones saying to the CFMEU: I’m sorry, we might agree with your argument, we might sympathise with your plight, but we’re not going to involve classrooms in this stuff?

Simon Birmingham: Well, the Teachers’ Union should and, frankly, they’re letting their members down with the type of antics and stunts that they’re pulling here, because I know that there are thousands of hardworking teachers around the country who would be shaking their heads that their reputation is being tarnished because of the actions of the militant individuals leading their union. These teachers, I know, just want to get on and do the right thing by the kids, work hard in their schools, and that’s what the vast majority will keep doing. We just need to make sure that the unionists themselves don’t get away with taking their stunts into their classrooms.

Ben Fordham: Alright, we’ll find out whether it’s happening in New South Wales this afternoon, Minister. Thanks so much for your time.

Simon Birmingham: Cheers Ben.

Ben Fordham: Simon Birmingham, the Federal Education Minister. If you’ve witnessed any of that activity in New South Wales classrooms, we want to hear about it. 131 873 is the open line number.