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Thursday, 20 June 2002
Page: 4077

Mr CAMERON THOMPSON (3:15 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. Would the minister inform the House of funding provided by the Commonwealth for Queensland state schools. Is the minister aware of other comments or announcements in this area?

Ms Macklin —Chopper's mate!

The SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition!

Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —I thank the member for Blair for his question in relation to funding for Queensland state government schools and, in particular, his very strong advocacy to me for the Blair State School. Honourable members would be aware that in this budget the Commonwealth government increased its funding to state government schools by 5.7 per cent—a 52 per cent increase in funding in six years, during which period of time we have had a 1.4 per cent growth in enrolments in the state government system. Honourable members should remember, though, that state schools are called state schools because they are administered, managed and funded by state governments. In fact, in support of that—

The SPEAKER —The member for Oxley is warned!

Dr NELSON —the Queensland Minister for Education, Anna Bligh, told radio 4QR in Brisbane on 4 June this year:

You see the Commonwealth doesn't actually run state schools, state governments do.

In fact, if I wanted to go to the Blair State School, I would have to write a letter to Anna Bligh and I would have to say, `Dear Ms Bligh, please may I visit the Blair State School?' These schools are funded, run and administered by state governments. But the Queensland minister in the Queensland parliament, the day after the Commonwealth budget was announced, criticised the Commonwealth government for delivering a 6.2 per cent increase in funding to support Queensland state government schools. In fact, the member for Jagajaga joined her in this and was highly critical of the Commonwealth budget as well. Of the federal budget, she said to John Faine on 3LO in Melbourne on 15 May, again the day after the budget:

There was no additional real funding for education, for public education at all in this budget.

`No extra real money at all,' she said. We, the Commonwealth government, announced this year in fact not a 6.2 per cent but a 5.8 per cent increase in Commonwealth funding to support Queensland state schools, to top up the Queensland government funding of state schools. So when the Queensland government announced—

Ms Macklin —No real money.

The SPEAKER —Deputy Leader of the Opposition!

Dr NELSON —its budget on Tuesday, having had the Queensland minister say that she thought that 6.2 per cent would be a totally inadequate increase, what might you think the Queensland government would have done in increasing its funding to its state schools? Hands up those who think that it might have increased it by 6.2 per cent? Okay, we have got a 6.2 per cent over here. No other takers for 6.2?

The SPEAKER —The minister will answer the question without the semantics!

Dr NELSON —So you would think, Mr Speaker—

Mr Latham —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —The member for Werriwa is already on a very short rope. The minister has the call.

Dr NELSON —So we are in a situation where—just to recap; this is a very important point—the Queensland Minister for Education says that 6.2 per cent is outrageously inadequate. The member for Jagajaga then describes the Commonwealth's increase for Australian state government schools at 5.7 per cent as `no real increase at all'. So Mr Beattie, who proclaims to be developing a knowledge state, so to speak, announces a three per cent increase in funding for Queensland state government schools—in other words, when you take into account inflation, barely any increase at all. I have been standing by my fax machine and I have been waiting for the member for Jagajaga to condemn the Queensland government for its totally inadequate increase in funding to its schools. If the member for Jagajaga thinks that a 5.8 per cent increase is no increase at all, how would the member for Jagajaga describe a three per cent increase?

Ms Macklin —No real increase on your part. You are being very dishonest.

The SPEAKER —I warn the deputy leader!

Dr NELSON —How many teachers would that fund? How many computers would it put into schools? What would it do for the 50 per cent of Aboriginal kids in the state of Queensland that cannot pass the literacy tests? This is the kind of hypocrisy that we get from the Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition is there with his sandwich board on—he has got a message for the policy frontiersmen down there with the member for Werriwa; he has got another message on the other side of his 50-50 sandwich board. I wonder which end of the sandwich board he is pointing towards Queensland today. As the Prime Minister said earlier today, I would love to know what the member for Jagajaga thinks about the full fees for TAFE in Victoria that were introduced by the Victorian government today for which no loan scheme exists. Give us the answer to that.