Clare, who describes herself as a “proud product” of the public education system, gave a different speech saying, “You won’t hear me say bad things about teachers.
“My own story shows the importance of education. I am the first person in my family to finish high school. In western Sydney in the 1960s, few working-class children completed high school or went to college. My mom and dad certainly never imagined it would be possible for them,” he said.
Among the challenges the new minister will face will be the renegotiation of the next four-year funding agreements between the state and the federal government for public and private schools, which will come into effect when the current agreement expires at the end of next year. Clare said he spent the first few days meeting and talking with his state and territory counterparts, and contacting the university’s vice chancellors.
He said his immediate priority was to lead the government’s childcare reforms, which will increase subsidies for 96% of families, through parliament by the end of the year.
Clare first entered Parliament in 2007 as MP for Blaxland, the former western Sydney seat of former Prime Minister Paul Keating, and served as a minister in Rudd-Gillard governments. In opposition, he most recently held the housing portfolio and was widely regarded as one of Labor’s top performers during the election campaign, playing a prominent role when Albanese was sidelined with COVID- 19.
Nevertheless, his appointment as Minister of Education surprised his colleagues since Tanya Plibersek had held the portfolio in opposition for six years. Plibersek, long seen as an Albanese management rival, was moved to the environment and water portfolio.
Clare said becoming education minister was a “dream come true”. He made an emotional return to his former primary school, Cabramatta Public, in Sydney’s west on Friday, visiting his former teacher Cathy Fry.
“What it shows is that working-class suburban kids like Cabramatta are as good as kids anywhere else in the world. If you give them a chance, if you give them an opportunity, if you give great teachers like Cathy Fry, our education system will help give them all the opportunities in the world.