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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 7983

Mr ZAPPIA (3:34 PM) —My question is also to the Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on new research and approaches to quality teaching?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Makin for his question. As a South Australian, I thank him for his interest in the fact that a fellow South Australian, namely my father, celebrated his 80th birthday on Saturday. Happy birthday, Dad. But I have actually been asked about performance pay and better quality in teaching. On the weekend, as well as celebrating my father’s birthday, I did release a report, commissioned by the former government, called Rewarding quality teaching. Like all things associated with education and the Liberal Party, this is testament once again to a track record of failure.

As a result of the question from the Leader of the Opposition, we have just had the opportunity to talk about their failure in student financing and their inability to get dollars to students who needed it the most—a situation which, of course, led to rural and regional participation rates at university declining under a government that included the National Party. This report is another testament to the failure of the Liberal Party on education. Commissioned by the previous government, the report about performance pay for teachers found no support amongst stakeholders for the previous Liberal government’s suggestion that teacher pay and student scores should be put together—one of the dumbest ideas ever floated in Australian politics, which would have been a recipe from the Liberal Party to make sure that every teacher in the most well-to-do schools in this country got a pay rise while every teacher in the most disadvantaged schools in this country got a pay cut.

When it comes to talking about education, what we know about the Liberal Party is that in government they used to talk and do nothing; in opposition, they do not bother to talk about education and they do not do anything. In government, they used to float ideas and not follow through; in opposition, they do not even bother floating ideas. We know that a former minister for education, David Kemp, said in 1996:

The Federal Government will this month begin a national review of the university education of teachers … It will recommend new national standards and guidelines for pre-service teacher degrees by April, 1997.

You guessed it, Mr Speaker—nothing happened. The last minister for education under the Liberal government, the current Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said in February 2007:

We need a teacher training and registration process that is nationally consistent, not only for the benefit of the current teaching workforce, but also to make it easier for potential teachers to enter the profession …

You guessed it—nothing happened. They were all talk in government and no action, with nothing that made a real difference to the circumstances of Australian children.

That stands in stark contrast to the actions of the Rudd government to improve teacher quality. We have entered a $550 million national partnership to do just that. It is already bringing changes to our education system. In New South Wales the funding is being used to create a new category of highly accomplished teachers who will earn around $100,000 a year if they go and teach in the most disadvantaged schools in New South Wales. This is a reform long dreamed of being delivered by the Rudd Labor government. Having pressed this reform through our national partnership and seeing it being delivered in New South Wales, we will be pressing this reform around the nation, because great teachers deserve better pay and kids that need the most benefit from education deserve to have great teachers.

We are also funding the Teach for Australia project—an initiative that will bring high-performing graduates into the most disadvantaged schools. Once again, this is a long-dreamed-of and long-talked-about initiative that would bring highly capable young people into disadvantaged schools to share their passion for teaching and their passion for change to see disadvantaged students succeed. This is an initiative on which we have taken action, and it will deliver.

In government, we are delivering an education revolution. We are doing it because we need to overcome the track record of neglect of the Liberal government. We are doing it because we want every Australian child to get a great, quality education. What do we see from the Liberal Party? Absolutely nothing. The shadow minister has published one speech on his website this year. That is it. He has nothing more to say about education—no ideas, no debate and no consideration about the nation’s future.