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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5064

Education


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:11): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Why is the Australian Education Bill so important for the future of our schools? Is the minister aware of any other approaches in relation to the importance of education?


Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:12): I thank the member for Deakin for his question. Like all members on this side of the chamber, he knows that education is the key to our national prosperity, that it is a pathway out of disadvantage for many young Australian students and in the Asian century it will be the platform for high-skilled, high-paid jobs in the future. I will soon table comprehensive amendments to the Australian Education Bill enshrining in the legislation the most significant reforms in education in 40 years, amendments that put in place for the first time a new fairer school funding system that will see every school funded on the basis of need, amendments that set out in detail the National Plan for School Improvement reforms, including a model based on the recommendations of the independent Gonski review.

Importantly, this bill brings for the first time funding for government and non-government schools together in one piece of legislation, providing extra public funding for students who need it. It does not matter where they live and it does not matter what school they are going to. Crucially here we have a choice for the Australian public and people listening: a legislated plan provided for in the budget, increasing school funding every year, driving reforms to help students and locking in fairness for the long term or the opposition's plan to keep a broken funding model that would see students left behind and schools go backwards by $16.2 billion.

There was an op-ed produced by the Leader of the Opposition on education. Previously he had said that the injustice in school funding was that public schools get too much money. We saw the 'real solutions' glossy. Education came in at priority No. 17. Today he had an opportunity to set the record clear and what did we get on education from the Leader of the Opposition? It had a whiff of the Howard era about it. There were a few typical incantations: 'when I was at school', 'choice, choice' and of course their old favourite 'a rigorous curriculum'. Well we have news for the Leader of the Opposition. In the 21st century not every parent has a choice where they send their child to school and, in case he has not noticed, we have already got a national curriculum. We have delivered it and it is being taught in schools around Australia.

What we can take from the opposition leader's very carefully scripted piece, given the $16.2 billion of investment in schools that would be denied as a consequence of Mr Abbott's policies, is that if you are a kid in the country who does not care about the extra support you need or if you are a teacher in a tough school then get ready for the rhetoric of choice and cuts. This is a very important piece of legislation in front of the parliament—A National Plan for School Improvement—making sure that we have a better education for all Australian students in all schools.