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Monday, 21 March 2011
Page: 2439

Mr GARRETT (Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (3:38 PM) —in reply—I am happy to stand and provide a summing-up on the Schools Assistance Amendment (Financial Assistance) Bill 2011, which provides the legislative authority for the government’s financial assistance for non-government primary and secondary education from 2009 to 2012. This bill amends the act to extend the existing funding arrangements, including the indexation arrangements for grants for recurrent and targeted expenditure until the end of 2013 and for grants for capital expenditure until the end of 2014.

This bill will provide funding certainty to the non-government school sector until the Australian government has had the opportunity to consider the findings of the review of funding for schooling and determined how schools will be funded into the future. That review is due to report to the government in late 2011. This will be one of the most substantial reforms to the way national education is delivered in this country’s history. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to really examine school funding arrangements—putting all of the options on the table and identifying what changes may be required.

The member for Sturt, the shadow spokesman, has become extremely and increasingly hysterical on this issue. We saw that in the speech that he made to the House—trapped in a public school versus private school argument that this government rejects entirely. The comments that he has made on school funding have been both divisive and inflammatory. The fact is that we understand very clearly the necessity to provide adequate funding to all schools. We are talking about funding schools; we are not talking about an either/or debate, which the shadow minister, the member for Sturt, is stuck in. This is about achieving a funding system which is transparent, fair, financially sustainable and effective in promoting excellent education outcomes for all Australian students, no matter which school they are at. It is not at all about taking money away from schools.

We are investing some $64.9 billion in our schools over 2009-12 to provide Australian students and parents with modern infrastructure, high-quality teachers, a national curriculum and unprecedented transparency on the performance of our schools. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.