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Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Page: 4988


Mrs MARKUS (3:27 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education. I refer the minister to reports that the Mount Victoria Public School will under the BER receive a Colorbond demountable classroom for $850,000—something the school P&C are not happy with. I also refer the minister to www.domain.com.au where, just down the road from Mount Victoria Public School, there is a ‘truly unique custom-built and designed home for sale for $485,000’. This home has a ‘generous outdoor area, spa, sauna, flowing stream, fish pond and potter’s studio’. Minister, can you explain to the P&C of Mount Victoria Public School how their demountable classroom will be value for money, when just down the road this substantial home is for sale at almost half the price?


Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Greenway for her question. Can I say this to the member for Greenway: when we see comparisons made on building costs, sometimes in the media and sometimes in this parliament, it is very important to be comparing like with like. I am not sure that in the member’s question we have really seen a comparison of like with like. However, can I say to the member that if the P&C at that school is concerned about value for money on their Building the Education Revolution project, then so am I. We are concerned to make sure that dollars spent on schools make a difference for schools, that dollars spent on schools go to maximum effect. As a government, and the member for Greenway might want to contemplate this, we have prioritised the education revolution and school education because we inherited a system that was groaning after more than a decade of neglect. That is why we are investing in trades training centres, to give kids an opportunity to get the skills they need for life and work, and the opposition wants to cut that back. That is why we are investing in computers in schools, so kids can learn with the learning tool of the 21st century, and the opposition wants to cut that back. That is why we are investing in teacher quality, to bring the best teachers to the classrooms that need them the most, to pay the best teachers more to go to the classrooms that need them the most, and the opposition wants to cut that back. And it is why, during this difficult economic period when we have needed to support jobs particularly in non-residential construction, as shown by the national accounts today, we have chosen to invest in schools.


Mr Andrews —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This was a serious question about rorting and wastage in her program, and she should take responsibility.


The SPEAKER —The member for Menzies will resume his seat. There is no point of order.


Ms GILLARD —I am a bit amazed to get an interjection from a man whose proud track record in government was making sure people’s pay could get cut—Work Choices written all over him, and I am still trying to get rid of his propaganda. It will come in handy for the Liberal Party in the next campaign, when they will be out there telling working families to take a pay cut, because that is what they believe in. Here is the member for Menzies back—tell us about Work Choices.


Mr Andrews —Mr Speaker, I rise again on a point of order. How can this possibly be relevant?


The SPEAKER —The Deputy Prime Minister has the call. She understands the responsibilities she has—


Mr Randall interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Canning is warned. The Deputy Prime Minister is responding to the question. She understands the requirement to relate her remarks to the question. It would assist if the interruptions and interjections ceased, and if ministers ignored those interruptions and interjections.


Ms GILLARD —On the question of the Building the Education Revolution project that the member for Greenway has raised, can I give this commitment to the member for Greenway, and I will seek one in return: my commitment to her is that I will have this matter referred to the Building the Education Revolution Implementation Task Force for inquiry about value for money questions, and the commitment I seek from her in return is that she be honest with every school and every P&C in her electorate about the cutbacks that will be visited upon them if she is re-elected as the member for Greenway and the Leader of the Opposition is elected as Prime Minister of this country. The people who vote in Greenway are entitled to know the member for Greenway stands for cutbacks to local schools.