Jason Clare, who became a fan favourite during the Federal Election campaign, has revealed his elevation to Education Minister is a “dream come true” as he unveiled the party’s broad-sweeping policy agenda.
Education Minister Jason Clare has pointed to childcare and worsening student results as his top priorities in his new “dream” portfolio.
Mr Clare was one of Labor’s shining figures during the Federal Election campaign, taking a front and centre position when Anthony Albanese was thrown into COVID-19 isolation.
The former housing spokesman received a key promotion as a result of his performance throughout the six-week campaign, telling Sky News Australia Chief Anchor Kieran Gilbert that the Education portfolio was a “dream come true”.
Mr Clare said there were multiple areas in his new ministry which had the ability to boost economic productivity or improve future output and skills.
“Big time whether it’s early childhood education and we talked a lot about that in the election campaign,” he said on Wednesday.
“The potential it has to help supercharge the economy by getting more people back into the economy who are at home.
“Or whether it’s what we do in our primary schools and our high schools; our schools are effectively the engine room of the new economy.
“What we do in our primary schools and our high schools if we get it right really sets the Australian economy up for the next decade and the decade beyond making sure that our kids have the skills they need for the jobs of the future.”
The Education Minister has outlined three areas in the sector where Labor will prioritise reforms.
Mr Clare referred back to the government’s flagship childcare policy which he said was critical to economic productivity.
Labor’s centrepiece policy proposal would increase the childcare subsidy to 90 per cent for a family’s first child, while expanding the cap of household income to $530,000.
The program would cost taxpayers approximately $5.4 billion, but Mr Clare said it was not just “good for kids and good for mums and dads but… it’s good for the economy”.
“So that’s priority number one getting the legislation that underpins that through the parliament so we can implement that,” he said.
Mr Clare also said Labor would bring together all parties involved in primary and secondary education to “turn around that slide” in student results, while also offering further assistance to universities.
“We’re sliding down that sort of global benchmark,” he said. “I want to work with state education ministers and teachers all of the professionals in this area to see what we can do to turn that around.”
“And part of that is to get more high achievers at high school to go to university and become teachers.
“And then the work that we do with our universities – they got hammered by COVID they didn’t get JobKeeper but they also lost a lot of international students.”
Labor also unveiled another education program during the campaign which would see high achieving school leavers become eligible for payments of more than $10,000 to study teaching.
The scheme will see an Albanese Labor government invest $146.5 million over four years to lift education standards.
Mr Clare also reflected on his personal journey to Cabinet and repeated comments made nearly a decade ago where he eyed the education portfolio over the Labor Party leadership.
The new minister said he was the first member of his family to finish high school and praised the advancement of the education system to now give “working class kids in the western suburbs” the opportunity to attend university.
“For my mum and dad growing up in the 60s in western Sydney, they didn’t even dream of going to university that sort of opportunity didn’t exist for working class kids in the western suburbs back then,” he said.
“But it does now and that’s because the sort of big reforms of people like Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke.
“We come to this building wanting to change people’s lives for the better, that’s what education does.”