Former prime minister Tony Abbott has labelled a controversial schools program focused on sexual diversity as social engineering.
“It’s not an anti-bullying program … its funding should be terminated,” Mr Abbott told The Australian on Tuesday.
The government is reviewing the Safe Schools Coalition program following concerns aired by coalition critics, led by outspoken Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.
The program, which has been rolled out to more than 500 schools, has divided government MPs.
Cabinet minister Steve Ciobo acknowledged there were different points of view.
“I do think that the message of harmony and allowing for diversity is a positive one, but we’ve got to do so in a way that is age appropriate,” he told Sky News.
Liberal colleague Ken Wyatt has read the material and says he has no specific issues.
“I think level heads need to prevail and certainly the needs of individual students should be catered for,” he said.
Government MP Andrew Laming supports the review.
“A flicking through of that document … shows a range of well-meaning advice sprinkled with stuff you would find to be quite extreme and confronting,” he said.
Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said fair-minded people would not have envisaged such a problem when helping to secure funding for the program in 2013.
“The extent to which the hard right will go to perpetuate their views and frankly their prejudices I think has been a sight to behold,” she told ABC radio.
Senator Wong hoped most parents were of the view children should be taught tolerance.