Bill Shorten has refused to rule out reintroducing the controversial Safe Schools anti-bullying and sex education program should he become prime minister, The Australian newspaper reports today.
Rachel Baxendale's report quotes Mr Shorten saying "The way I approach Safe Schools programs, and indeed other anti-bullying programs is keeping our kids safe should be paramount."
In February 2016 on his Facebook page, Mr Shorten outlined that he understood Safe Schools was 'designed to support young LGBTI people go to school in a safe environment'. In his post, Mr Shorten attacked now Australian Conservatives leader and senator Cory Bernardi for opposing Safe Schools.
The next month, Mr Shorten made a statement to the House of Representatives on 17 March 2016, saying
"Safe Schools is an anti-bullying program ... So when it comes to the welfare of our children, if I have to choose between: the teachers, the principals and the school counsellors of Australia, or the rabid ideologues of the Liberal-National parties - I will choose Australian teachers and schools any day. "
Supporters of the Safe Schools program trashed senator Bernardi's electorate office the next day.
Around the same time , controversial Safe Schools co-ordinator Roz Ward said
"(It's) not about celebrating diversity; not about stopping bullying. (It's) about gender and sexual diversity."
Two months later, The Australian reported that Mr Shorten was committed to continue funding the Safe Schools program which - at that time - looked likely not to have its funding renewed under the Coalition government.
In February 2017, Mr Shorten tweeted 'We need safe schools to protect kids ...'
Senator Bernardi went through the many concerns about the Safe Schools program in a speech to the Senate in February 2016:
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