Published by CELA on 27 Aug, 2017

What do we know about Dan Tehan MP?

Amplify Editor Bec Lloyd put together this post as an overview of the man who will be sworn in as Education Minister for Australia this week, putting him in charge of billions of dollars worth of funding for early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Australia’s newest Minister for Education, Dan Tehan is from rural Victoria in the electorate of Wannon.  He’s one of six children in a farming family, whose mother, Marie Tehan, was a member of state parliament and a conservative government Health Minister in Victoria in the 1990s.

Personal perspectives

With a large family of his own now, Tehan has been an advocate for better educational opportunities for young people in rural areas. His maiden speech paid homage to his parents for being able to assist with his educational expenses, but profiled the need for better tertiary education opportunities for young people from country communities who face additional barriers to study because of higher travel and accommodation costs, as well as missing the support many urban families can offer their young adult children.

His rural background might mean Tehan has better insight into the difficulties faced by many in the sector when seeking to hire qualified staff, or to support educators who want to improve their qualifications.

Political credentials

Politically, Tehan has been described as a ‘rising conservative star’ in the current government, although he has publicly spoken out against Tony Abbott and dissent in the Liberal party in the past.  At 50 years of age, he also fits the ‘new generation’ model that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared.

He entered Federal parliament in 2010 after a career in Australia’s foreign affairs corps and as an adviser in political offices.  He became minister in 2016, serving in mainly defence-related portfolios until his promotion to Social Services in December last year.

He’s seen plenty of controversy in his previous portfolio, Social Services, and since that department controls the Child Care Subsidy system he may also be bringing along at least basic knowledge of the issues surrounding the transition payments to families and services.

Stance on education

He has diligently shared the government’s announcements around preschool funding, with no indication yet about how he will approach the crucial discussions with the states and territories about the continuation – and hopefully expansion – of Universal Access funding.

Tehan’s personal history of Catholic education is expected to assist the government in ending the bitter battles raging between public, independent and Catholic authorities in the primary and secondary school education sector.

In short, there is nothing in Tehan’s public record to suggest any particular interest in the early years or outside school hours parts of the education portfolio.  We can expect his focus to be heavily on the Gonski 2.0 school funding, and for him to dedicate some interest to the needs of rural young people seeking tertiary education.

What’s next?

As ever, the sector will have to speak up loud and clear to be heard over the activity in other parts of a very large and highly contentious portfolio.

Community Early Learning Australia CEO, Michele Carnegie, penned this open message to Minister Tehan this morning:

CELA looks forward to sharing with Minister Dan Tehan our focus on achieving quality early education for all children across Australia, irrespective of their background or location, through adequate funding for quality programs underpinned by a qualified workforce. We see this as imperative to the needs of our children now and our nation’s future prosperity.

Share your message to the new Minister in the comments box below.

See the full list of new Cabinet members here.

Dan Tehan collage

Image credit: Dan Tehan MP

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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