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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 65

Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (15:47): I am very glad to have heard from the minister representing the minister for education. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister forgot him in question time, but it is good to give him a go. It is really important that we are talking about schools, but it takes more than just talk to deliver good outcomes in schools. We need good policy that has accountability and, importantly, invests in every child. That is what Labor has put up. Unfortunately, we hear a lot of talk from the other side, but no plan whatsoever. Indeed, we had some illusion today when the minister representing the minister said, 'There will be future policies.' How about the Liberal Party just stick to the policy they went to last election with? For members' interest, this poster was at the polling booth: 'We will match every dollar for dollar.' So, if it is not about money, why were these put up? I could table this because it would be of use to other members, but I will leave that for the end and will see if they accept tabling. That was their policy.

We have heard a lot from the minister representing the minister for education about how much the agreements were not of interest to the Liberal Party. Why then did the opposition leader before the last election—the Prime Minister who is now the former Prime Minister—say, 'We will honour the agreements that Labor entered into.' If they were such bad agreements, why did the Liberal Party commit to entering into the agreements? Of course, what they wanted to do was say that there was no difference between Labor's great policy on schools and the Liberal Party's policy, but they came into government and they quickly cut $30 billion from our schools.

There was a lot of hope around the place when there was a new Prime Minister. He was friends with David Gonski, so maybe he would actually enact the recommendations of the Gonski agreement. Indeed, the Prime Minister boasted about how they were great friends, so it was very confusing and disappointing to school communities around Australia when the education minister came out at Christmas and said, 'No, no, we are sticking to our old policy. We will continue to cut $30 billion out of schools and ensure that students around Australia are not properly funded.' What we have seen is the Prime Minister being absolutely wedded to the cuts made by the Liberal Party, despite going to the last election with an alternative plan.

We heard about future policies. My challenge to the Liberal Party is: once again commit to Labor's policy because it is good policy. It is policy that will invest in a needs based funding model, it will deliver to every student in this country, it will ensure that we have better teachers and it will invest in our teachers in our classrooms. Importantly, it will need accountability from the states and accountability from the school systems. We know that the former Minister for Education let the states off the hook when it came to accountability with education. We have vision and we have plans for good outcomes as a result of our education policy. We want to see 95 per cent of year 12 students complete year 12. Year 12 is the passport to their future and we will work to deliver that. We want to lift our international standards and get into the top five countries around the world. This is what we want to see. Labor has a clear plan for the future of schools in this country. Instead, we hear from those on the other side, the government, a whole lot of talk and absolutely no action—no action to improve our schools, no action to improve our teachers and no action to invest in the future. The Prime Minister might want to talk about innovation, but unless he invests in the students of this country we will see no improvement and we will continue to slide backwards. So my challenge to the Liberal Party is: invest in schools. Keep to your promise at the last election and maybe make that promise at this election. I doubt the Australian people will trust you.