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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3351


Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (10:51): I am pleased to speak on behalf of the government on this motion to suspend standing orders today. But I note that the Labor Party do not really have their heart in this motion; they are really just going through the motions on it. The shadow minister could not even be bothered being here. The shadow minister, the member for Adelaide, could not even be bothered being here for the debate.

Ms Plibersek: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Mr PYNE: I took no points of order on you during your—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): The Leader of the House will resume his seat. Member for Sydney, are you calling for the—

Mr Burke: It is a request for something to be withdrawn.

Mr PYNE: I certainly will not be withdrawing the fact that the member for Adelaide—

Mr Dreyfus: Bully the Deputy Speaker again!

Mr PYNE: You are the bully. During the Leader of the Opposition's and Deputy Leader of the Opposition's speeches I made no interjections nor took any points of order. I would like to be treated with the same courtesy and I make the point again: if Labor really had their heart in this motion, the shadow minister would not be campaigning in Perth during a sitting week of the parliament—she would be here moving this motion. But of course the shadow minister knows that Labor does not really have their heart in this motion or in the bill because the shadow minister said only last week that Labor was not committed to years five and six of the Gonski funding model. She was asked about it by David Lipson on Sky News on three occasions on 18 March. David Lipson asked her, 'Will you take to the next election a promise to restore funding in years five and six for the Gonski education funding model?' The member for Adelaide said, 'Look, what we are focused on is the budget that is an eight weeks time.' Again David Lipson asker her, 'Will Labor commit to take that funding for years five and six to the next election?' This is what the member for Adelaide said, 'But David, it might not shock you to know this is not our election policy launch.' So Lipson tried asking a third time, 'Isn't it a bit hollow though to call on the government to do that if you are not committed to doing it yourself? The member for Adelaide responded, 'Well, obviously, we'll make a budget reply in a few weeks time.'

So the reason the shadow minister is not hear to move this motion and to speak on it is that she knows Labor is not committed to years five and six of the Gonski funding model. She let the cat out of the bag last week. She has avoided this debate because she did not want to be embarrassed into saying things in the chamber that she knew would not be true when finally Labor releases a policy on the budget in the coming election campaign in 2½ years time. I can understand her embarrassment because it was the Leader of the Opposition who ripped $1.2 billion out of the school funding model in the economic statement of the former government before the election, which was confirmed in the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook, and was published by the Treasury. So it was perfectly obvious that Labor was taking $1.2 billion out of the $2.8 billion that had been set aside for school funding over the next four years.

When I became the Minister for Education, I was immediately presented with the situation in which the money put aside for the school funding model was $1.6 billion, not the promised $2.8 billion. This meant that Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland were all going to be short-changed that $1.2 billion of extra funding. The Labor members shake their heads but they know it is true. The shadow minister knows it is true and that is why she is not here. So I set about finding that money, the $1.2 billion, to put back in to the school funding model. The irony is that it was the government and I who delivered the national school funding model across every state and territory, fully funded for the next four years, as promised to the Australian people before the election.

Labor has turned up in the House today to move this motion, to pretend that somehow they would put the money into school funding, when they were the party who ripped $1.2 billion out. They ripped $1.2 billion out; we have put $1.2 billion in. We are the party that delivered the national school funding model. The sector knows it and they are very grateful.

The only state government that is ripping money out of school funding is the South Australian Labor government which has cut $230 million from school funding over the next four years. In the great state of Western Australia, they have increased their school funding by 7.1 per cent this financial year. In my great state of South Australia, they have actually taken $230 million out of school funding for the next four years, yet they have the gall to come in here and lecture us. I can understand why the Leader of the Opposition filled his speech with one-liners, as the Milton Berle of Australian politics, thinking he was hilarious. I must say that those one-liners got worse as his speech went on. The only one that was in the slightest bit amusing was 'Perth-onality'. Unfortunately he filled his speech with one-liners because he had nothing of any substance to say.

This is the problem with Labor across the whole policy spectrum. Over the course of the sitting weeks this year we have seen Labor run a tactical campaign every day. Every day is about trying to be on the television news that night. I know that the member for Chisholm knows what I am saying is true because she has been around in this place and she should be on the front bench of the Labor Party. If I had been on the caucus, I would have voted for the member for Chisholm—I can tell you that right now. She knows about tactics in this place. She knows that you have to have substance to present to the Australian public, at election time, a suite of policies that you genuinely believe will be better for the country—which is what we did for the four years when the current Prime Minister was Leader of the Opposition, leading to two elections.

We showed the substance required to take the Treasury benches. Labor has every day run a tactical campaign just like the motion they have moved today. I was happy for them to debate it because the coalition is on very strong ground when it comes to school funding. Not only did we put the $1.2 billion into the school funding model, not only did I deliver the national school funding model, but also we are moving to do the other things that are very important to the outcomes for students—getting the curriculum right, so we can have a national review of the Australian Curriculum, to make sure that what we are teaching young people in our schools is useful for them and is going to expand their knowledge so that when they leave school they will be able to take on a career of their choice.

We are expanding independent public schools across Australia. The Western Australian model is a very good model. I know that yesterday the Minister for Education in New South Wales, Adrian Piccoli, was praising the role he has played in introducing school autonomy across New South Wales. The Northern Territory is following suit. Queensland is following suit. Victoria already has a high level of school autonomy. Everyone knows in education and all the research indicates that, the more autonomy in a school, the higher the expectations put on students by parents, by teachers and by the principals. The more autonomy there is in a school, the better are the outcomes for students.

We have a deep and abiding passion for independent public schools. We have put $70 million into a fund to ensure that independent public schools can be rolled out around Australia. We are also focusing like a laser beam on teacher quality. If the shadow minister and the Labor Party actually researched education in Australia, they would know that the PISA results published by the OECD in December last year said—and they have routinely said this—that the overwhelming factor in Australia that indicated the success or otherwise of our school students was the classroom they were allocated to in a school. Nothing could give you more indication of the fact that teacher quality is the most important factor in schooling than knowing that, in eight out of the 10 reasons that affect a student's outcome at school, the OECD said it was the classroom to which a student was allocated—in other words, the teacher to whom they were allocated in a school. They did not say it was socioeconomic status or school autonomy; they said that one out of 10 reasons was their SES background, one out of 10 reasons was other factors and eight out of 10 reasons for the success of a student was the teacher to whom they were allocated.

That is why we on this side of the House want to give the professional development that is necessary for the existing teacher cohort across Australia to reach their best selves. We are also reviewing teacher education across the universities in Australia so we can produce the best new teachers possible in our schools, because this is the area where we have the most influence as a Commonwealth government. Of course we will not be supporting this motion, but we are pleased to have the opportunity to talk about our program.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question that we are voting on is the suspension of standing orders as moved by the Leader of the Opposition.