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Thursday, 19 June 1997
Page: 5844

Mr QUICK —My question is to the Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training. Is the minister aware that, according to the Department of Social Security, there are 500 young unemployed people who will be forced back into the four already overcrowded, overstretched senior secondary colleges in my electorate as a consequence of the government's attempts to hide youth unemployment? Will the minister now guarantee to provide the additional $20 million these schools need if they are to educate these extra students? Isn't this a problem that will arise not just in my electorate but right across the country? What are you going to do about this?

Dr KEMP —Here we have a question that again reflects the fact that the Labor Party preferred young people to be on the dole. It now seems to be complaining that young people will have the opportunity to go back into school and get the skills and the education they need.

Mr Crean —You don't assist them. You have cut back.

Mr Kerr —You are degrading the public system.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The member for Denison!

Dr KEMP —As a former minister in this area, you would think the member for Hot ham would know that the Commonwealth provides per capita funding for every student in schools. Therefore, there will be additional funding which follows these students into the classroom.

But the present government has not been satisfied with that. The present government has put in place the most extensive reforms to vocational education and training that have been seen in a generation in this country. Amongst those reforms there will be vastly increased opportunities for young people in schools to get the vocational education courses that will be relevant to them when they leave. The great characteristic of the Labor Party's education policies—

Mr Crean —I rise on a point of order relating to relevance, Mr Speaker. The question was very specific. It asked whether the minister would ensure the extra $20 million would be available. He is not addressing that point. I would ask you to require him to respond to the specific question that you have required our side to ask. We now expect them to answer on relevance.

Mr SPEAKER —I thank the honourable member for Hotham. I uphold the point of order. I am encouraging the minister to address the question.

Dr KEMP —The Labor Party is the party which has totally neglected the interests of the 70 per cent of young people—

Opposition members interjecting

Dr KEMP —This is entirely relevant to the question.

Mr Crean —The minister continues to ignore your direction to him, Mr Speaker. You have asked him to direct himself to the question.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order because the minister had only gone four or five words into the next sentence.

Mr Crean —But he has ignored what you said. He is talking about our performance, not the $20 million.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I am allowing the minister some latitude, but he is addressing the question. I am happy with it. I do encourage the minister to—

Mr Crean —Are we the only side that sanctions apply to, Mr Speaker?

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Hotham will resume his seat. The minister will take due cognisance of my encouragement to address the specifics of the question.

Dr KEMP —The question asked about resources in schools for students seeking vocational educational and other educational opportunities. I am answering that question.

Mr Kerr —What about the $20 million dollars in Franklin—in Tasmania?

Dr KEMP —The present resource situation faced by these students—

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The member for Denison! We know where Tasmania is—relax.

Mr Kerr —He doesn't.

Dr KEMP —The present resource situation results from years of neglect by the previous government. The 70 per cent of students who are not going on to university, as admitted by the member for Sydney, received virtually no consideration under the policies of the previous government. The policies of this government in providing $187 million over the next four years to expand vocational education opportunities in schools, including school based apprenticeships and traineeships, will precisely meet the needs of these young people. In relation to this, it was very interesting to read in this morning's Sydney Morning Herald the statement by the President of the Secondary Principals Council in New South Wales, Mr Jim Harkin.

Mr Kerr —My point of order is on relevance. I appreciate your admonition that you know where Tasmania is. But the question was specifically related to the resources needed in the electorate of Franklin and to the $20 million worth of additional resources required for four senior high schools. The minister should answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER —I am sure the minister will address the specifics of the question in the broader context of his answer. There is no point of order.

Dr KEMP —As I have already stated, the resources flowing to schools follow the students from the Commonwealth. There is additional Commonwealth funding for every student who goes back into school. The Commonwealth is also putting additional resources into schools, including in Tasmania in the electorate of Franklin, to encourage students to undertake relevant vocational educational opportunities. I am now making the point that one of the senior representatives of principals in Australia has made the point that schools have to accept the challenge; we have to accept that secondary education is not just the right of the best 70 per cent of students. The Commonwealth is putting schools in a position where they can respond. The previous government did nothing to put schools in such a position. In fact, it provided students with a financial incentive to get out of school and live a life on the dole. That did the students no good and it did harm to the quality of the society in which they live.