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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5210

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (16:03): I thank the member for La Trobe for her question and I do acknowledge her considerable and strong representation of the schools in her electorate, both government and non-government. I have appreciated the opportunity to visit the member's electorate on a number of occasions and see first-hand the kind of support that schools in her electorate have already received as a consequence of this Labor government's investment in La Trobe schools. I can see the Hillcrest Equine Trade Training Centre and the significant funding of $1.5 million received to enable those trade-training facilities to be delivered. I can see significant investment in schools in the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program at schools like St Joseph's College, Gembrook Primary School, St Francis Xavier College, Hillcrest Christian College, Nossal High School and many, many others.

I can see the benefits of the investment in empowering local schools in national partnerships that have resulted in students in the schools in the members' electorates having by far a greater opportunity than they would have had previously for good, assisted, focused and targeted learning and support in the school setting.

It is important, when we consider the budget in detail, to reflect on the fact that the total spending in our areas of the budget is around $14.4 billion for schools, $6 billion for early childhood education and care and $200 million for youths. Let us just compare them with the last Howard budget, for a second or two. Even in schools, nearly twice as much investment has been delivered by this government over periods of the budget. We had $14.4 billion in schools compared with around $8½ billion in the last Howard government budget, with the commitment to a national plan for school improvement and delivery of additional resources to students in schools around Australia, with the opportunity for improved learning outcomes as a result.

The member asked me what the impact and effect would be of the Victorian government not choosing to support and join with us in a national plan for school improvement. The answer to that question is very straight forward. Under the current—broken—funding model, over the next six years Victorian schools will lose a total of around $3 billion from government schools and around $1.2 billion from non-government schools. These are not trifling sums. This is an extraordinary denigration of duty, of care, on the part of the Victorian Minister for Education and the Premier if they do not take this opportunity for additional investment. Failing to do that will see schools worse off. That is an average of around $1.7 million per school and around $3,700 per student in the non-government sector, and nearly $2 million per school and around $5,500 per student in the government sector. That includes the electorate of the member for La Trobe.

It is really time for Premier Napthine to determine that he will act in the interests of students in Victoria and Victorian schools and eschew some of the politics we have seen over the last couple of weeks. Let us look at what Premier O'Farrell did in New South Wales. It is a coalition state, with a Liberal Premier and a National party education minister. They had every opportunity to consider the interests of students in their schools, to deliver an additional investment of some $5 billion. And they took it—as did the ACT, which did not necessarily get similarly large amounts coming through its school system but nevertheless recognised the merits not only of additional investment but also of a nation plan for school improvement.

It goes without saying that teachers aids, homework classes, literacy coaches, specialised teachers to help with the curriculum and additional investment in software programs to assist teachers working with kids who have a disability—the range of supports that can be provided with an investment are considerable, including in the member's electorate, and the Victorian Premier should join.