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Kenny Report, Sky News, 13 March 2024

Chris Kenny: Let’s bring in Shadow Education Minister, Sarah Henderson, live from Geelong, good to speak to you, Sarah. Tell us about what Anthony Albanese has announced here. He’s recognised that the territory has special problems, special disadvantage among large cohorts of its population, especially in remote Aboriginal communities and the like. So, he’s tipping in more money for education, you would think that might be a good thing, but do we know how it’s going to be spent? Do you know whether it will actually deliver any better outcomes?

Senator Henderson: Well, Chris good afternoon, and the problem with today’s announcement by the Albanese Government, is it’s clear, the government has no plan. It’s not enough just to sign a big cheque and not deliver the outcomes for students that we need. We know there is terrible disadvantage right across the Northern Territory, 58 per cent of kids in the Northern Territory are failing NAPLAN and attendance at schools is as low as 20 per cent in some remote communities. So, we do have a remote education crisis in the Northern Territory. But for goodness’ sake, I mean, the minister, Jason Clare, has been in the job for nearly two years and he’s not been able to deliver one reform, one outcome that’s tied to this additional money. That is not good enough, and it’s really letting down Territorian kids.

Chris Kenny: Well, if the Territory hasn’t got the programs in place, extra money is not going to help, but should the federal government be stepping in? I mean, you need to make sure exactly what are the educational programs that are being put in place. Can they look at what Noel Pearson’s been doing in Cape York, for instance, where he’s focusing on phonics and getting the basics underway really early?

Senator Henderson: Look, absolutely. The Coalition has been calling on this for a very long time to mandate explicit teaching in every Australian classroom. We need to get back to basics, a focus on literacy and numeracy. And we are not seeing this government drive those reforms and it’s fundamentally failing young Australians, Chris. And where is the focus on getting kids into school? There is a huge problem with truancy in the Northern Territory and Northern Territorian kids deserve the very best. But without a plan they are getting absolutely nothing. So, it really is not enough just to sign cheques. And the government has done this in Western Australia. But of course, it now has a school funding war on its hands in many of the states. Big promises, but very little delivery when it comes to really standing up and delivering proper outcomes for students.

Chris Kenny: Sarah, if I could just indulge you and speak about a former portfolio of yours that is communications, where you had responsibility for ABC issues, and like me, you’ve worked inside the ABC. You know what it’s like inside the public broadcaster. You would have seen that interview last night with Sarah Ferguson. Is that a new low in actually just trying to be combative and shut down a coalition policy rather than elicit some information?

Senator Henderson: Well, firstly, let me say that I think the shadow minister, Ted O’Brien, did an excellent job at advocating the merits of nuclear energy and explaining that under Labor, its policies are really going off the rails and just driving up electricity prices to the point where so many families are at breaking point, Chris. But I have to say, it was disappointing to see the way in which that interview was conducted. It’s great to have a national conversation, so I am pleased that the ABC is providing that national conversation platform, but its obligation under the ABC Act, is to disseminate information impartially and accurately, and I don’t think the interviewer, Sarah Ferguson, gave Ted O’Brien a proper go. She certainly seemed to show her own colours on this issue. And that pretty much shone through the interview.

Chris Kenny: Well exactly, but this is where taxpayers are being let down. Now, Sarah Ferguson also put three one-hour documentaries together saying that Vladimir Putin put Donald Trump in the White House. It’s absolute tosh. They’ve never recoiled from that. They’ve never apologised for that. They’ve never corrected that. And now they’re just promoting one argument in the energy debate every day that the renewables debate, this experiment of renewables plus storage, which all the world experts say can’t be done, we can’t do it with existing technology. And yet they’re trying to discredit a rational debate on energy. Will you complain about this? What’s to be done about this

Senator Henderson: Well, I think we’ll have another juicy session at Senate estimates, Chris, there is no doubt about that, because Australians do expect the very highest standards from the ABC And as I say, Ted O’Brien did a brilliant job of explaining the merits of nuclear policy as part of an overall mix. We need all technologies in our policy. We need renewables, we need coal, gas and of course, emissions-free nuclear – rather than of course, the government just shutting this down are hiding under the doona. I mean, that’s what Chris Bowen is doing. So, we are taking the responsible action in having a proper debate about our future. Energy security is vital. Driving down energy prices is vital. Australian families are really hurting under this government. They deserve better. And that’s why this conversation is so important. And that’s why I think the ABC also needs to do better.

Chris Kenny: Yeah, we shall see. Thanks for joining us, Sarah I appreciate it.

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