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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1929


Ms KATE ELLIS (Adelaide) (16:00): At a time when this parliament turns its attention, through this matter of public importance, to the effect of this government's cuts and broken promises on the families of Western Australia, there are few areas which are more important to those families than education. In the area of education, Western Australian families were given some very clear promises from the Abbott government before the last election. They were told that the Abbott government would be on a unity ticket with a Labor when it came to education reform and funding. That has been shown to be nothing more than an utter farce. They were told, in the Prime Minister's own words:

We will make sure that no school is worse off.

Those were words that the Prime Minister was quite happy to say before the election but has rightly refused to repeat in this parliament after the election because he knows that they are utterly false.

The now education minister stated:

We have agreed to the government's school funding model.

He also said:

We are committed to the student resource standard, of course we are. We are committed to this new school funding model.

But it was utterly untrue, and they have already betrayed those Western Australian families who took them at their word when they made those very clear pre-election promises.

The truth of the matter is that, if they had agreed to the Labor government's school funding model, that model would include some very important provisions. It included the provision that for every $2 of additional Commonwealth funding the state governments would need to put in a dollar of state funding themselves in a co-contribution. But perhaps even more importantly in this example, it had very important clauses that, in order to get additional Commonwealth funds, state governments had to guarantee that they would stop cutting state education budgets. But, of course, this government have said, 'Hands off—do what you like; we'll send you a blank cheque and you can go back to cutting your budgets by even more than we invest in them.' That is exactly what Western Australian families have already seen.

In Western Australia they have already seen $158 million cut from their state education budgets. Western Australian families are dealing with savage cuts to schools right across the state. The effect of those cuts has been dramatic and devastating. We have seen Western Australian schools losing 350 education assistants. We have seen them losing 150 education positions in central and regional offices. We have seen 105 Aboriginal and Islander educational officers lost and 600 teaching positions lost. And, at a time when more than 11,000 new students head to school this year in WA, the government plans to cut another $25 million from education. Why? Because the Abbott government broke their very clear word to Western Australian families.

And why else? Because the Western Australian members opposite in this House have refused to stand up and fight for those Western Australian families. To them I say that the Labor Party will make sure that we keep fighting for the school reforms which you were promised at the last election. We will hold this government to account so that when they said that no school would be worse off they are forced to deliver upon that, which means that it is crunch time. In about 10 weeks time when we see the federal budget, we will see in black and white whether or not there was any honesty whatsoever in the comments from those opposite, because if there is we will be expecting to see included in the budget papers the $7 billion in Commonwealth funding which is meant to be delivered in years 5 and 6 of the Gonski reforms. We will not hold our breath because we know that those opposite are too weak to stand up against the Prime Minister's education cuts and, importantly, Colin Barnett's education cuts.

Just today in question time the Prime Minister admitted that 32 trades training centres in WA would be cut by his government under his watch. The Prime Minister's words in question time today were:

I know that the former Labor government in the election campaign made a whole series of promises, including promises in this area. We made it very clear that we were not bound by them. It is as simple as that.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. They were not election promises; they were in the budget papers as a funded program. Thirty-two trades training centres for Western Australia have been cut under your watch—

Mr Wyatt interjecting

Ms KATE ELLIS: and you, Member for Hasluck, do nothing to stand up against it. But of course we know that in Western Australia—where there are skill shortages in some areas and high youth unemployment in other areas—they are the very communities that need representatives to stand up and fight for their funding, fight for their trades training centres and fight to end the Western Australian government's cut to school education budgets. Those members are only found on this side of the House. (Time expired)