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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10086


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:19): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. What reforms has the government delivered to our education, schools and training system to help Australians secure the jobs of the future?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (15:19): I thank the member for Throsby for his question. I know he carries on a very proud tradition of members from the constituency of Throsby really arguing long and hard for jobs in their electorate.

The government is serious about reform because reform is all about making Australia a better place for people to live in and to grow up in. It is about tackling dangerous climate change by putting a price on carbon pollution. It is about rolling out an accessible National Broadband Network. It is about transforming education right around the country to make every school a great school. It comes on the back of a proud tradition of Labor reforms which can tell people what we on this side of the House are about. Whether it is Medicare or compulsory superannuation, we are fair dinkum about reform and about bringing these policies through to make sure they improve the opportunities for Australians in the future.

There are some big reforms out there in education if you think about it. There is a new building in every one of our schools—not 3,000 flagpoles against 3,000 libraries, but new halls, new classrooms, new science laboratories; an Australian curriculum accessible to every student wherever they live; national standards for the teaching profession; and hundreds of thousands of computers installed. I put out a statement today saying that I am pleased to see that we had 75 per cent of the total installed by the end of June. We have invested record amounts in literacy and numeracy and record amounts in assisting kids from low socioeconomic communities lift their education capacity. Of course there is the once-in-a-generation opportunity through the independent Gonski review of school funding.

We are also doing it in higher education. There is a significant amount of investment again—nearly double what we saw from the previous government. There are 130,000 new training places now being provided and record numbers of apprentices and trainees with skills. In higher education we now have more young Australians than ever before being given the opportunity of a university degree. There was an important announcement today that students from inner regional areas are able to access the independent youth allowance under exactly the same rules that apply to students from outer regional, remote and very remote areas. I am asked how this is being received. On the BER, Trevor Gordon, the Principal of Cairns State High School, said in the Cairns Post in October:

It is one of the most wonderful facilities I've seen in my 38 years as a teacher.

I have heard many comments like that from principals around Australia, as I know have my colleagues on this side of the House.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister has the call.

Mr GARRETT: On the national curriculum, Martin Dixon, the Victorian minister, said:

It is a historic occasion. It is one that teachers and educators have been waiting for for a long time.

I could not agree more. On national professional standards for teachers, Sheree Vertigan, who is from the Australian Secondary Principals Association, said:

The standards are a crucial platform for building teacher quality in all secondary schools across Australia.

Those opposite may not be willing to have their budget cuts subject to the scrutiny of the Parliamentary Budget Office, but our investments in education ensure that young Australians now will have jobs in the future.