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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Page: 6906


Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (15:10): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. How is the Gillard government delivering to ensure every child has access to a great education?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (15:10): I thank the member for Wakefield for his question. The fact is that this government has already delivered more education reform than the Howard government managed in over a decade and since coming into office it has proceeded to rebuild, from the Commonwealth, school education after a decade of ignorance and neglect from those opposite. We have almost doubled the investment in education to some $64.9 billion. Australian students are now studying in new libraries and classrooms as a consequence of a $16 billion investment in school infrastructure—24,000 projects at 9,500 schools across Australia. We have introduced Australia's first national curriculum: English, maths, science and history from kindergarten to year 12, with geography, languages and arts to follow. We have introduced Australia's first national teacher standards. For the first time teachers will be identified on the basis of quality in a national system. We are introducing Australia's first national bonus pay system for the best and brightest of those teachers with $425 million to make sure that teachers are recognised and rewarded. And we are investing some $480 million to empower local schools. We know that local communities and school principals have an idea about what will work best and we trust them to make those decisions.

We are rewarding schools that make the most difference to our students through the $165 million Reward for School Improvement program. Of course, there is $2.5 billion available in the Smarter Schools National Partnerships, identifying our most disadvantaged students, including our Indigenous students, so that they can improve in key areas of literacy and numeracy. This is investment by this government that is transforming schools and changing lives. If you add the 430,000 computers and the $2.5 billion in the Trade Training Centres in Schools Program, you will get a strong and clear idea of the level of investment and commitment to education that this government has.

I happened to notice a quote from somebody who probably has a bit of a feel for education, who said—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will resume his place. The member for Sturt, having persistently interjected and persisted with other disorderly behaviour, was warned. I then was forced to remind him that I warned him. I ask him to leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.

Mr GARRETT: The fact that the member for Sturt has responsibility for education in this House on behalf of the opposition and has now been ejected from the parliament tells us everything we need to know about the opposition's commitment to education. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, this is a quote from someone who knows: 'We have the My School website, which certainly has its advantages. We have national curriculum coming on. We have national partnerships in literacy. We have national partnerships in teacher performance. We have national teacher registration coming. We have the national BER program.' The author of that quote was the Minister for Education in the Victorian coalition government, Martin Dixon. Need I say any more? Well, I will.

The fact is they on that side of the House do not like hearing about these achievements. They want to cut $2.8 billion out of the education budget. The fact is that for over a decade they managed 3,000 flagpoles; we are supporting some 3,000 libraries. Our commitment to education recognises that it is the great enabler. This government will continue to produce the commitment, the policies and the support to make sure that every school is a great school. That is right at the heart of this government's agenda.