Greens write to Education Minister urging him to retract comments on school strikes


Greens Education (Primary and Secondary) spokesperson Senator Penny Allman-Payne, a 30-year public school teacher, today wrote to Education Minister Jason Clare asking him to retract his comments opposing the School Strike for Palestine.

As reported in The Age on Tuesday, Minister Clare said “school students should be at school during school hours”, comments which were this morning echoed by the Victorian deputy Premier Ben Carroll.

The Greens have called on Labor to support students’ democratic right to protest as school children prepare to walk out of classrooms on Friday for the National Climate Strike, and Thursday next week in support of Palestine.

Comments attributable to Greens spokesperson on Education (Primary and Secondary) Senator Penny Allman-Payne:

“This morning I’ve written to the federal Education Minister urging him to retract his comments that kids should ‘stay in school’ instead of striking for climate and peace.

“These are not the comments of a Minister who is dedicated to students’ democratic right to freedom of speech and expression and right to protest.

“These are patronising comments from a Minister who is out of touch with how switched on, informed and powerful students movements can be.

“I urge students and families to ignore the Minister’s condescension and act on your democratic right to protest for a safe climate future and for peace.

“The right to protest is an essential part of living in a democracy. We should find it heartening that this generation of schoolkids is prepared to join millions around the world in exercising that right over such fundamentally important issues.

“It’s clear that Australian school students have seen through the platitudes. They know that it is morally indefensible to refuse to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“And they know that as long as we continue to dig up and burn coal and gas, reigning in climate change is impossible.

“So often during debates in the senate chamber, government Members refer to themselves as ‘the adults in the room’, but when it comes to acting in our best interests – whether it’s action on climate or opposing the invasion of Gaza – the so-called adults are failing our kids.

“That’s why they’re taking to the streets. Not because they want to skip school, but because they are being forced to by a cowardly and captured government.

“If the government wants kids to stay in the classroom, the solution is simple: do your job.”