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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4325

Schools


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (14:11): My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Yesterday the Liberal member for Menzies, Kevin Andrews, said that the Turnbull government's modelling that showed a $4.6 billion cut to Catholic schools 'has not been provided to the party room; I hope it will be provided tomorrow'—which is today. Has the minister now come clean with the coalition MPs and senators and provided his department's data showing a $4.6 billion cut to Catholic schools?

Senator Whish-Wilson: Mr President, on a point of order: since when does the DLP get the first and third question in this Senate chamber? The last time I checked, Senator Madigan had already left the Senate!

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham, has the call.




Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:12): I had great pleasure in talking to the coalition party room this morning about how it is that Labor's $22 billion that they run around the country talking about is just funny money, how it is that the $22 billion that they claim was money that of course was never in the budget, was never paid for, was never funded and is funding that nobody could ever have possibly banked upon, in contrast to what those opposite claim, as they run around, plucking figures out from the $22 billion and saying, 'This much may have been for this sector; that much may have been for another sector.' The coalition is firmly committed to providing—

Senator Cameron: Mr President, a point of order on relevance: the question was, has the minister now come clean with the coalition MPs and senators and provided his department's data showing a $4.6 billion cut to Catholic schools? He has not addressed that.

The PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Senator Cameron. The minister did go to address the fact that he has spoken to his colleagues this morning, and I think we need to give the minister, in his remaining one minute and 19 seconds, a bit more of a chance to flesh out that answer.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: I was very directly addressing Senator Collins's question in that I explained to the coalition party room this morning that people can roll out all of these different bits of the $22 billion of pretend money, of funny money, of fake money that the Labor Party runs around saying that they had there somewhere for schools on the never-never horizon. But compare it with the Turnbull government, which has presented a clear model, which is proposing legislation for a clear model, which has put in place the budget savings to ensure we can address and put in the $18.6 billion extra we are proposing. Those opposite keep running around with their fantasy money, Senator Collins, with the fantasy $22 billion—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Senator Cameron, a point of order?

Senator Cameron: Mr President, you did indicate that you would give the minister some time to try to deal with this. Well, he now has 36 seconds left and he has not dealt with the question. He should be drawn to the question.

The PRESIDENT: The minister has partially addressed the question. I will call the minister again.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: Indeed, I think the explanations were very clear about the fact that people plucked out of this $22 billion magical figures to say that this group of schools could have gotten this much or that group of schools could have gotten a different amount. In the end we all know, of course, that the Labor Party never delivers on their promises, that they budget things that they can never afford to pay for and that in this instance once again the Labor Party are making promises that they will never keep in the future.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Collins, a supplementary question?










Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (14:16): I am a bit young for the DLP! But on a more serious note—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right. Reset the clock.

Senator JACINTA COLLINS: On a far more serious note, one Liberal MP has said it was 'a major mistake' to provide the data to the Senate crossbench but not to the coalition party room. Was it a mistake, Minister, or was the minister intentionally withholding the data that reveals a $4.6 billion cut to Catholic schools?




Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:16): I will take Senator Collins at her word that she is too young for the DLP, but I certainly will not take her at her word when it comes to talk about cuts, because time and time again in this place I have been very clear about the additional funding growth that is there. In relation to the Catholic education system in Australia, there is $3.4 billion of growth built in over the next 10 years—year on year growth for Catholic education systems across each of the states of Australia. This is a growth factor that ensures each of them will ultimately be treated equally, fairly, across the Commonwealth, regardless of the state boundaries but based on the needs of those individual systems. That is why it provides faster rates of growth to Catholic education systems in states like Western Australia and Tasmania—to ensure that for the first time ever they will be treated fairly relative to their Catholic education system cousins in Victoria and New South Wales, to deliver a fair, consistent approach— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Collins, a final supplementary question?



Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (14:17): Given that the minister's own party room colleagues do not trust him to deliver a fair system of school funding, why should the parents of Australian schoolkids?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:18): Parents of hardworking Catholic education families, hardworking families in the public education system and hardworking families in the independent education system should absolutely trust that the Turnbull government's legislated model for school funding will put an additional $18.6 billion into schools across Australia. They should trust the fact that that funding will go at the fastest growth rate to the schools that need and deserve it the most, so that those around 4½ thousand Australian schools will receive a growth rate in excess of five per cent per student per annum over the decade into the future. This is strong growth for those schools that need it most. It is fair growth for all schools in Australia. It is about providing a model that actually is consistent, that reflects need, that gives additional support to students with disability, that gives additional support to Indigenous students and that gives additional support to rural and regional schools. It gives the support where it is needed most to the children who need it most.