My friend Macgregor alerts me to Lindsay Tanner’s speech at the Sydney Institute last night. As always with Tanner’s stuff, it’s well worth a read.
So exactly who are we? Over recent years Iâ€™ve thought a lot about my own motivation. About why Iâ€™m Labor. Iâ€™ve come to understand my core values much more clearly. Iâ€™ve realised thereâ€™s a golden thread running through Laborâ€™s identity which reflects my own outlook on life. Itâ€™s been there from the beginning, and itâ€™s dominated our message in the modern era. Itâ€™s at the heart of Laborâ€™s mission.
That golden thread is learning. To me, more than anything else, Labor stands for learning. …
Learning is much wider than education. Itâ€™s not just a skills issue, a productivity issue, an economic inputs issue. Itâ€™s a values issue. Learning increases opportunity, it enables participation, it opens hearts and minds. Itâ€™s at the centre of debates about childcare, preschools, schools, universities, TAFE, apprenticeships, labour market programs, neighbourhood houses, adult education, welfare, immigration and aged care. It helps deliver better social and health outcomes, like alleviating loneliness and delaying the onset of dementia. The Smith Family defines learning as â€œthe foundation for helping disadvantaged children to break free from the spiral of povertyâ€. If there were no skills crisis, would Labor still be passionately committed to expanding our nationâ€™s investment in learning? You bet we would! That passion defines the kind of society we want to create. It reflects our core values, not just our prescription for better economic outcomes. Learning is about discovery. Itâ€™s about building a better world.
The more time I spend looking at active labour market programs, the more convinced I am that good primary schools and high schools are the best social policy we’ve yet devised. Finish grade 12, and your odds of ending up jobless are far lower than for an early leaver.