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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1803


Mr RAMSEY ( Grey ) ( 15:02 ): My question is to the Minister for Education. Will the minister inform the House how freeing local schools from bureaucratic and centralised education systems, through independent public schools and increasing school autonomy, will help improve student outcomes, particularly in my electorate of Grey?

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (15:02): I am very pleased to get a sensible question on education today from the government because I can point out that the government's policy on implementing an independent public schools program across Australia will have a major impact on outcomes and results for students. This side of the House believe that quality and standards should be our watchwords in all things to do with school education.

In fact, in the Adelaide Advertiser today support came for the coalition's position from a source that we do not normally have in our corner, and that was the South Australian Association of State School Organisations. The director, David Knuckey, said that the Debelle inquiry shows schools cannot depend on the Department for Education and Child Development and that research shows self-governed schools have better outcomes. He went on to say:

OECD research shows that schools run by the local community are more efficient, have improved financial management, reduced bureaucracy and are more innovative.

In fact, on the weekend, in a very excellent column in the Weekend Australian written by Kevin Donnelly, he set out much OECD international and domestic research which shows that school autonomy has a major impact on school outcomes for students.

Mr Husic interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley will remove himself under standing order 94(a).

The member for Chifley then left the chamber.

Mr PYNE: I am not surprised that the opposition are so loud and confused about this particular issue. They have been confused about independent public schools from the beginning. The previous prime ministers, Rudd and Gillard, were in favour of independent public schools. The current Leader of the Opposition says independent public schools are privatisation, indicating his fundamental misunderstanding.

This is not the only issue of confusion for the opposition on school funding. They supported $2.3 billion of cuts to higher education when they were in government. They proposed the cuts ostensibly to pay for the Gonski model for school funding. Then they took $1.2 billion out of the school funding model in the pre-election fiscal outlook. So they not only robbed Peter to pay Paul; they then mugged Paul afterwards in order to get the money from him as well. That is how confused this opposition are. They took the money from Peter to pay Paul and then poor old Paul never got it. They made sure in the pre-election fiscal outlook that they were taking it out of school funding. That is how confused, hopeless and pathetic this opposition are.