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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6079

Mr MURPHY (2:28 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and the Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on recent media reports about the Building the Education Revolution Program?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Lowe for his question. I know that he would be very supportive of the 559 economic stimulus plan projects in his electorate totalling more than $61 million. I know that he is a man who is very much in touch with his local schools and a frequent visitor to them. He would be delighted to see that 42 of his local schools are receiving more than $53 million through Building the Education Revolution—the biggest school modernisation program the country has ever seen.

Before I came to question time, the member for Higgins—I note that he is not here now—was giving a press conference where he regretted that there was not enough humour in question time in the modern age. My mind has gone back to a comedy show on television called Not the Nine O’Clock News. What I am hoping is that I might be able to reprise that comedy show on the basis of what is not in the Australian today about Building the Education Revolution. People may have seen reports in the Australian today about Holland Park State School. It is a great school in the electorate of the Prime Minister. In reading that report today in the Australian newspaper people may have come to the conclusion that there was a problem with this program. Let me just clarify it for members of the House. Under Primary Schools for the 21st Century, Holland Park State School has been approved funding of $1½ million for the construction of a new library, which was identified by the school as a priority, and a further $1½ million to extend and refurbish the existing multipurpose hall with new office and kitchen facilities, including seating, staging, sound and light facilities.

I understand that there were some critical comments made by a community member about this plan, and they are reported in today’s Australian, and of course the Australian will report things said to it. I note that the principal of this school, Mr Anthony Gribbin, has sent the following statement about the school’s view of the project. He says, somewhat informally:

Dear, Kevin

The school community is delighted by its successful application for funding under the second round of the Primary Schools for the 21st Century—Building the Education Revolution.

Holland Park State School will receive a once-in-a-lifetime enhancement of its facilities with improved interactive technology for all students and teachers, a new library and refurbished hall. These facilities will help us deliver quality education to all our students, providing them with a secure foundation for the future.

The school is currently in the planning stages with Education Queensland and it is expected that the approved projects will be ready for the start of the 2010 school year.

These facilities will also benefit the wider community, as they will be accessible for community training programs, meetings or workshops.

I thought that was a pretty glowing endorsement.

On the question of endorsements, my attention was also drawn today to the words of the former Prime Minister when asked about the member for Higgins. He said only 10 words:

I wish Peter well, but I have no further statement.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. My point of order is obvious. How could this possibly be relevant to the answer that the minister is giving about the so-called Building the Education Revolution? I ask you to draw her back to the question.

The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I will be listening very carefully to how the material is related to the question. The Deputy Prime Minister will respond to the question.

Ms GILLARD —I must admit that I did not think I would ever live to see the day when a Liberal member of parliament would not want me to quote former Prime Minister John Howard. It is a very unusual turn of events.

Mr Tuckey —What’s this got to do with education?

Ms GILLARD —I was referring, of course, to his 10 words today about the member for Higgins—that is, one for each two years in parliament and one for each budget that the member for Higgins delivered. Of course, we suspect that is probably more than the former Prime Minister said to the member for Higgins in the last five years.

Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —The member for O’Connor will resume his seat.

Mr Tuckey —I beg your pardon!

The SPEAKER —The Deputy Prime Minister will respond to the question.

Mr Tuckey —I have the right to a point of order.

The SPEAKER —The member for O’Connor will resume his seat! Given that the member for O’Connor has been interjecting for the whole time since the last point of order, he would understand that there is a bit of a two-way street. If he will now sit in silence, the Deputy Prime Minister will relate her comments to the question. There can be only one reason that the member for O’Connor would rise, and that would be on relevance. The Deputy Prime Minister will respond to the question.

Ms GILLARD —The question was about Building the Education Revolution; the question was about endorsements. I have obviously talked about the strong endorsement of the projects in the Prime Minister’s electorate. The government will continue delivering Building the Education Revolution. I understand that it is opposed every step of the way by members opposite, but we will deliver this program in the interests of jobs today and Australian education tomorrow—which, as you can tell by the interjections, is something the opposition care absolutely nothing about.