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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6384


Mr DREYFUS (7:35 PM) —I am proud to be part of a Labor government which is undertaking the largest school modernisation program in Australia’s history to support local jobs, to stimulate every local economy and to invest in important long-term infrastructure. I am proud to see the funds that are being rolled out through Building the Education Revolution. But it has been extraordinary over the last several sitting weeks to sit here and listen to not simply the dishonest scare campaign that has been run by those opposite in relation to debt and the stimulus package as a whole but, more particularly, the dishonest campaign that is being run by those opposite in relation to the Building the Education Revolution program.

The misrepresentations that we have heard from those opposite about Building the Education Revolution over the last several weeks have been extraordinary. They have referred to discrepancies in pricing. They have made accusations about the way in which the state governments are cooperating with the federal government on this program. And it is apparent that they have not read the guidelines for Building the Education Revolution. They have not attempted in any serious way to find out what the state governments are doing in relation to government schools under this program and, indeed, they have not taken the trouble to find out the way in which the Catholic school system and the independent school system are dealing with the Building the Education Revolution funding.

The accusations about underspending and, indeed, all of the other misrepresentations that have been made by those opposite are entirely without foundation. Most importantly, what needs to be borne in mind about this program is that those opposite voted against it. It is outrageous that they have come into this House, day after day, raising complaints about a program that they voted against in its entirety. They fail to recognise that this program is supporting jobs and providing employment.

I can speak for my electorate in saying that, already under this program, some $62.7 million has been allocated to schools, and that is only in rounds 1 and 2 of the program. Apparently what those opposite want us to do, because they do not wish this program to be occurring at all, is to spend less. In saying that they wish us to spend less, those opposite are saying that they wish this government to emulate their record on education during their 11½ years in government. They want us to spend less on early childhood education. They want us to spend less on tertiary education. They want us to spend less in every sense on education because by doing that we would be emulating their record while in government.

I know that the Rudd Labor government will not be doing less. We will be doing more in relation to early childhood, we will be doing more in relation to infrastructure for schools and we will be doing more in relation to the tertiary sector because we do not wish educational standards to slip. We do not wish to be at the back of the pack in OECD statistics, which is where the Howard government left us at the conclusion of its term in office. We do not wish the children of Australia to be educated in substandard facilities, and we do not wish our nation to lack a 21st century vocational education and training system which is capable of meeting the needs of a modern country.

I am looking forward to Liberal Party members coming to my electorate and telling the schools, the principals, the teachers and the parents there which schools in the electorate should not have received funding and which of them should not have received the new buildings that they have so warmly welcomed as part of the Building the Education Revolution program. I suspect that, after their having voted against this program and consistently making misrepresentations about it, we will not be hearing members of the Liberal Party who visit my electorate say that. Rather, they will be pretending that they did not vote against this whole program. They will be pretending to welcome the school programs and the school buildings that are unfolding in my electorate. Over the next 12 months, we are going to see— (Time expired)