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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9400


Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (2:57 PM) —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education. I refer the minister to reports that $85,000 has already been expended on consultants fees at Abbotsford Primary School, where the government plans to knock down four classrooms in order to build four classrooms, against the wishes of the school community. Minister, if the project is not changed to reflect the wishes of the school community and the project is therefore rejected outright by the school, who will pick up the tab for the $85,000 in consultants fees for a nonproject? Will it be the school, the state government or the Australian taxpayer?


Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, on a point of order. There are quite clearly about five hypotheticals in that question from the member for Mackellar, and as an expert on the standing orders she knows it is out of order.


The SPEAKER —From time to time there are questions that, based on a premise earlier in the question, do use the word ‘if’, and I think that there are many examples of such questions. I will allow the question.


Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —Can I say to the member for Mackellar there is something about Building the Education Revolution that she has not quite realised, and that is that Building the Education Revolution is all about getting money to schools, money that she and the Liberal Party are opposed to delivering to schools. So let’s just get it clear in her mind: this side of the House supports giving resources to schools and her side of the House does not.


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order—


The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt is asking a point of order—


Mr Pyne —on relevance.


The SPEAKER —although when he is mangling his abuse of 65(b) it gets a bit unclear what is actually happening.


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, on relevance: the Deputy Prime Minister was asked about waste and mismanagement in Building the Education Revolution. I would ask her to answer that question.


The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt cannot rephrase and paraphrase questions as a point of order. He might be able to do that when he is making his interjections, against the standing orders, but he cannot do that, and he should be very careful. If we want to have ‘Battle of the Standing Orders’, 65(b) says:

When a Member is speaking, no Member may converse aloud or make any noise or disturbance to interrupt the Member.

That applies to the member for Sturt as well. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call. She is responding to the question.


Mr Pyne —She is not.


Ms GILLARD —Can I say—


Mr Pyne —She’s not answering the question. She never answers the question, ever.


The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt is warned.


Mrs Irwin interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Fowler is not assisting. In fact, one of the things that members on my right will have to learn is that they do not necessarily assist by their cries of all sorts of standing order misdemeanours. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.


Ms GILLARD —Can I answer the member for Mackellar’s question by saying to her: Building the Education Revolution is about getting resources to schools. Any suggestion that the school at Abbotsford is somehow paying these consultancy costs out of its own resources is—


Mr Pyne —I want to know who’s paying them.


The SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Prime Minister will resume her seat.


Ms GILLARD —absolutely absurd.


The SPEAKER —The Deputy Prime Minister! I am not quite sure what the Manager of Opposition Business is considering, but I simply offer him this: if he thinks that his defiance of the chair is worthy of the three days that he will get, then let it be on his head.


Ms GILLARD —Of course, the question of administrative costs is dealt with in the Building the Education Revolution guidelines: administrative costs at 1.5 per cent of the program. The question of project costs has been dealt with between the federal government and the state and territory governments and block grant authorities who are delivering this program, and that deals with the industry standard of four per cent. I understand from the member for Mackellar’s question that she is quite interested in hypotheticals. Well, if she is quite interested in hypotheticals, here is a hypothetical for her: just imagine if the Liberal Party had won the 2007 election. If that had happened then today there would not be economic stimulus, there would not be support for jobs, unemployment would be higher, there would not be the biggest school modernisation program in the nation’s history—


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is on relevance, Mr Speaker. It was a very straightforward question. We simply want to know who is going to pay the—


The SPEAKER —The member for Mackellar will resume her seat.


Ms GILLARD —And if the Liberal Party had been elected then the 49 schools in her electorate would not be benefiting from 104 projects at more than $90 million. And if the Liberal Party were ever re-elected then presumably they would do everything they could to rip this money back out of schools, because they have opposed it every step of the way.