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Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Page: 250

Mr PERRETT (3:16 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Would the Deputy Prime Minister advise the House on the opportunities for members to play a role in the rollout of the Building the Education Revolution initiative?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Moreton for his question. I know that he is deeply interested in education in his electorate. Can I say to the member for Moreton and to all members in this parliament that our investment of $14.7 billion into our new program, Building the Education Revolution—a historic investment in every primary school, every secondary school and every special school in this country—offers opportunities for those members who are in touch with the local schools in their community to assist. Of course, members who are in touch with their local schools know what their local schools’ infrastructure needs are and they know that local principals, teachers and parents have seen yesterday’s announcement and now want to start working it through. Members of parliament who are in touch with their local communities can play a role in getting that information to school communities. I would recommend that those members visit the Building the Education Revolution section of my department’s website, where they will find fact sheets to assist schools to work out how they will benefit from this program.

The benefits of this program for local schools are enormous, as are the opportunities for supporting local jobs as people go about the construction, repair and maintenance activities that will be financed by this historic new investment in schools. The government are anxious to work with in-touch local members on this program and we are anxious to work with those who want to assist with the rollout of the program. In that regard I would refer to the statement by the Liberal Premier of Western Australia, Mr Colin Barnett, who said:

The Federal Government’s plan—

that is, our Nation Building and Jobs Plan—

emphasises the areas of housing and education, two areas that I am confident the Western Australian Government can help to deliver …

The Liberal Treasurer in Western Australia, Mr Buswell, said:

That type of stimulus, whether it impacts on consumption expenditure or investment, is something that the state government welcomes.

Those people are clearly prepared to work with the federal government in delivering these new investments for Australian schools and more broadly through our Nation Building and Jobs Plan. Of course, there are those members of parliament who are so out of touch with the needs of their local school communities that they are opposed to this $14.7 billion investment in schools to make sure that they are able to meet the needs of the 21st century and offer a world-class education.

Earlier today the Leader of the Opposition was inviting members of parliament to imagine what they would say when looking into the eyes of schoolchildren as they talked to them about Australian politics and about matters that involve the Australian nation. In-touch members of parliament will be able to say that we are making a historic investment in their schools and their future. Out-of-touch members of parliament from the Liberal Party, who are voting against it, presumably will say that they were members of a government that used to have a program called Investing in Our Schools, which they brought to an end by way of prime ministerial press release on 19 February 2007, and that they then contested an election in 2007 without promising one dollar more to that program. In his response today, the Leader of the Opposition floated an idea that maybe $3 billion could be put into that program but failed to explain that that is an 80 per cent cut on what the Rudd Labor government is committed to—a Nation Building and Jobs Plan for every school in the country as opposed to the Liberal Party’s Investing in Our Schools Program, brought to an end by the then Prime Minister by way of media release on 19 February 2007.