Jason Clare stands on the education high ground

for Labor good education policy is good politics

In a speech marking the imminent centenary of the Smith Family, Education Minister Jason Clare praises the charity, as “an organisation that has always understood that education is the most powerful cause for good. That it is the real change agent in our society.”

Mr Clare went on to cite his three-policy plan to change the present situation where, “children from poor families are less likely to go to preschool, less likely to finish high school and less likely to go to university than children from wealthier families.”

on the Universities Accord: “It will look at everything from quality and standards to international education and research. But what I really want them to zero in on is equity.”

the National School Reform Agreement: “young people from poor backgrounds are less likely to finish high school. We need to fix this.”

and on a Productivity Commission review: to “advise on how to build a universal early education system that gives every Australian child the opportunity that they deserve.”

There is nothing new in the speech but it demonstrates that for Labor good education policy is good politics.

How so The Opposition is now electorally irrelevant on education policy outside its base, culture warring on teacher education and expressed contempt for the humanities has seen to that

But the Greens aren’t. Senator Faruqi (NSW) works hard to pitch the party as a friend to students (she has a bill proposing to end indexation of HECS payments) and a supporter of researchers – she led the charge against the ARC National Interest Test.

This must matter to Labor. According to the new ANU-Griffith U  analysis of the election, 67 per cent of Gen Z (born in 1996 or after), those with most immediate experience of education, vote Labor or Green. It’s not a problem for the ALP while Green preferences flow its way, but it will be when the two parties are in contention for seats.

By presenting Labor as the party of education as an engine of opportunity for all Mr Clare takes control of moral ground so high that while policies will be criticised the party’s purpose will be beyond electoral approach.