Labor has today condemned Christopher Pyne’s plan to dump the teaching of a dedicated history subject as a backwards step that would rob our children of the opportunity to learn about Australian history and culture.

In 2007, John Howard linked federal schools funding to the teaching of a stand-alone history subject.

“It is quite shameful that in some parts of Australia and some schools ... that teaching of Australian history is no longer a stand-alone subject.

"How can we understand where we want to take ourselves if we don't understand from where we've come? It's absolutely fundamental that we do this."

John Howard, The Age, 11 October 2007

A stand-alone history subject has been endorsed by all states and territories – Liberal and Labor – as part of the National Curriculum.

Under Christopher Pyne’s plan, subjects including history and geography will be replaced with a Humanities and Social Studies learning area. Whether schools chose to focus on particular subjects would be made optional.

“Every child should know the meaning of ANZAC Day and Australia Day – it should not be an optional extra,” Shadow Education Minister, Kate Ellis, said.

“It’s ludicrous that learning about Australian identity and history is facing the scrap-heap under Christopher Pyne - it's an offence against rigour and standards and the opposite of what we need.

“This is an extraordinary move no-one ever thought they would see from a conservative government.

“This shows just how far Tony Abbott’s Liberals have drifted off-course since the Howard years - Christopher Pyne is so preoccupied trying to save his own job, he’s forgotten his own history."