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Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Page: 1297

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) (1:55 PM) —in reply—I will not take long in summing up this debate on the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment (2008 Measures No. 1) Bill 2008, and the matter before the House can therefore be dealt with before question time. Obviously, the opportunity has been taken by some members to raise issues further afield and more broadly on matters associated with Indigenous Australia during the debate. I am sure members will reflect on those contributions.

But the purpose of this bill—and it is an urgent measure; it is an immediate budget measure—is to ensure that we can fund additional teachers in the Northern Territory. As members of the parliament, and members of the public more generally, would be aware, one of the things that has happened as part of the Northern Territory emergency response is that a number of measures have been put in place to increase school attendance. That is to ensure that Indigenous students who have never been enrolled in school are enrolled in school and also to ensure that Indigenous students who have only intermittently attended school attend school more regularly.

It would obviously be a great tragedy if those Indigenous students were to come to school and not be met with the resources that are necessary for their education. There is no more vital resource than a teacher being there, ready to receive, ready to teach and ready to facilitate the learning of those Indigenous students. So this bill is before the House to accomplish that purpose immediately. I commend it to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.