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Monday, 7 September 2009
Page: 8661

Mr ROBERT (2:54 PM) —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Education and Minister for Social Inclusion. I refer the minister to the Evesham State School in the Labor electorate of Flynn, which last week received a grant of $250,000 to build a new library for its one enrolled student. Is this the minister’s idea of value for money? How did the school census data support this decision?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Fadden for his question, and I presume that he is opposed to the 32 schools in his electorate benefiting from 104 projects and receiving more than $77 million of funds under Building the Education Revolution. I presume he is opposed to each and every dollar and each and every job supported by that expenditure. He must be, because he voted against it.

Mr Robert —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance. One student has been handed a quarter of a million dollars, and surely the nation needs—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Fadden will resume his seat. On the question of relevance, after the preamble the Deputy Prime Minister will now respond to the question.

Ms GILLARD —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I was making the very simple point to the member—and I would make it to all members in the House—that this is a program for all 9,500-odd schools around the country. It is a program that—

Mr Laming —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance. We already have one Anna Bligh in Queensland; we do not need another—

The SPEAKER —The member for Bowman will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a). As he was given a warning earlier in the day, that is very generous.

The member for Bowman then left the chamber.

Mr Randall interjecting

The SPEAKER —Member for Canning, I noted your interjection, but an interjection is out of order.

Ms GILLARD —The simple point I was making is that this is a program benefiting 9,501 schools around the country with 24,426 individual projects. This is a program that rolls out correlated with school size but, as the guidelines have made clear throughout the life of the program, we work with education authorities, state and territory governments, the Catholic education authority and the education authority for independent schools so that we can respond to school needs. That has, of course, included money being moved from schools that do not need that resource to other schools. That has happened in circumstances where schools are going to be amalgamated, and obviously we want the new facilities to be there at the school that is going to be ongoing. We continue to work with school authorities on these questions, and we will continue to do so.

Opposition members interjecting—

Ms GILLARD —I say to the opposition members who call out during this debate that perhaps they might like to consider that the centrepiece of this program is support for jobs and school infrastructure today, during the days of the global recession, supporting tradespeople and apprentices around the country whilst delivering the biggest school modernisation program the country has ever seen, with more than 24,000 projects being delivered effectively over a two-year rollout period. I know that members opposite are embarrassed that they voted against jobs and assistance for local schools. I know that members opposite think that it is clever to come in here day after day—

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, a point of order: the minister was asked about the Evesham State School. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I do not think she has actually mentioned it yet.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Sturt will resume his seat.

Ms GILLARD —I know that members opposite feel that it is clever to come in here day after day raising allegations about this program and talking it down. Most of the material they have raised in question time has turned out to be factually inaccurate. This is a program to support local jobs and to build school infrastructure for the future. It is a program that most members sitting opposite cannot wait to associate themselves with the moment they are back in their electorates. But here in Canberra, of course, because they have voted against the program they cannot do that. The difficulty for the opposition is that very first decision. When they voted against this program they said no to jobs and no to school infrastructure and they will be judged on that.