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Monday, 27 March 2006
Page: 102

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs) (6:10 PM) —As Senator Wong noted, this is the same amendment that was proposed in the other place and, as the minister pointed out in the other place, the proposed amendment is a demonstration of a lack of understanding of how funding is delivered under the Schools Assistance (Learning Together—Achievement Through Choice and Opportunity) Act 2004. The outcome the opposition is trying to achieve is already possible under the act. The arrangements currently in the schools assistance act outline the processes for entering into arrangements with non-government schools and non-school organisations to deliver much needed educational services and support to Australian schools and students. The arrangements are robust and include the need for these organisations to enter into agreements with the Australian government that outline financial and educational accountability requirements. The opposition has again failed to make a sufficient case for these amendments; therefore, the government will not support them.

From a more technical point of view, I am advised that the overriding flaw in this is because it refers the payments to non-government bodies; however, the act makes payments to the states for non-government bodies. Notwithstanding that point, the proposal to add subclauses (7)(a) to (d) does not add anything new, because (7)(a), (b) and (d) are already possible under the act and (7)(c) refers to government school community organisations, and these are not non-government bodies under the act. Consequently, the government will not be supporting the amendment.