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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 1428


Ms MacTIERNAN (Perth) (15:58): I do want to talk about education outputs and I do want to talk about the inherent schizophrenia in the position adopted by the government. Outputs are incredibly important, but if the member for Boothby really understood that data he would know what is happening in Australia—the top 25 per cent of Australians are doing very well, the next 25 per cent are doing quite well but the bottom 50 per cent, those two lower quartiles, are doing very poorly. When you read that data, you need to understand how it is broken up and you need to understand that that is why we need Gonski; that is why we commenced the whole process of Gonski. It was to investigate forensically where we are going wrong in our education system and target the funding towards those people who need it.

Quite correctly those opposite say analysis shows that things have been going wrong in our education system—but that education system has largely been run by the states. Under Labor, federal Labor said, 'We've got to get more involved. This is too important.' Federal government has to get involved because, as the minister has himself said, this is essential and important to the productivity of this nation. So the federal government decided that it had to get more across the detail. It had to get more involved. That was the whole point of Gonski and the agreements that were subsequently entered into with the various states to deliver change, to deliver the money where we needed it, to deliver the resources where we needed them. It is certainly true it is not about resources. There are other things that have to happen as well. But the resourcing is certainly part of it. There is inequity in our system. You have got to understand how that lack of educational opportunity is playing out and why we need to actively go in there and fix it.

There is a complete and absolute contradiction. You are saying you want to do all these things. You are going to insist on school autonomy. You are going to have better teaching. You are going to have that, but you are not having any agreements with the states. The states have presided over this regime and have been delivering the schools. You say, 'The states run the schools. We're going to let them continue to run the schools and we're not going to have any engagement with them. We'll give them the money no strings attached.' How are you going to do that? How are you going to make change by just giving more money to the people to continue on with business as usual? It does not make sense. You have to engage. You have to get into agreements. Now, we did have agreements with—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! I am reluctant to draw the member for Perth's attention to the use of the word 'you'. It is a common failing on both sides of the House, but it is not me that has to understand; it is someone else. I would just ask you to reflect your comments through the chair, not at the chair.

Ms MacTIERNAN: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. It is absolutely essential that we understand that we do have to enter into agreements. If we want to forge a new pathway then we have to constructively engage the states, because, as you have identified, 'business as usual' is not working. How can we just say, 'We're just going to tip a bucket of money in, but we are not going to take any responsibility for what that outcome is'? It does not make sense.

Let me just make one little comment too about Western Australia. It is quite interesting. The minister yesterday was claiming that Labor wanted to punish WA. We only offered them $170 million over the next four years for their schools, and we were punishing them because we did not like the school autonomy of the independent public school model that had been introduced. Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard twice came down to schools in what was then my state seat and absolutely promoted and embraced the principle of student autonomy. We offered $170 million. You have gone in now and offered only $120 million. It has gone from $178 million to $120 million. So you have actually cut by one-third the amount of funding that was on offer from Labor. (Time expired)