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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 694


Mr BROUGH (Fisher) (12:58): I second the motion. Education is pivotal to the future of my children, my grandchildren and the nation. We all know that, and I think those on both sides of the House recognise it. We have debates about a range of issues. We sometimes fight on ideological grounds. We sometimes fight about the dollar value. We sometimes fight about whether it is the state or the nation that should actually be governing different aspects of the education system. As a former soldier, I know what it is like for families to go from one state to another and fight with the variation in the school starting age—it really is debilitating. A lot of those things are being addressed by both sides of the House. But today's bill is actually quite misleading, on so many fronts, and I think that it behoves me to point out to the new member for Lalor where it is failing.

First of all, she makes the point that the Labor Party were somehow going to implement Gonski, and we saw around our school gates: 'Implement Gonski', 'I'm for Gonski'. I can tell you now the Labor Party were not, because they did not deliver anything remotely like what the Gonski review panel put up—nothing. So let's not kid ourselves. Let's not pretend we are not who we said we would be and connect ourselves with something that the Labor Party simply was not going to enact.

Secondly, the member who now stands as the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, was the very minister who at the time withdrew money from my state. He also withdrew money from the Northern Territory. When we are talking about a national program and those most in need, I think I am well qualified, both from my public life and my private life, to talk about what it is like to be a remote schoolteacher in the Northern Territory working with the most disadvantaged children. Yet it was the Labor government that crowed about its commitment to education that did not guarantee the money under what you, the member for Lalor, depict as a national scheme. A national scheme, by definition, would be for everybody. WA is part of our Federation, Queensland is part of our Federation and the Northern Territory is part of our Federation, but they were not part of it. They were locked out.

Can I tell you that the students and teachers in my electorate are absolutely delighted that the Queensland state government is delivering Commonwealth funding of $131 million—not next year, not the year after, not the never-never. It is in their pockets today. Every single school on the Sunshine Coast has extra money thanks to Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, and Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Education, delivering on an election commitment. That is money that they actually have the autonomy to spend. In speaking directly to principals in the last week, they told me how important it is that they can engage their local business communities. They do not have to get onto QBuild, which might have outrageous costs. And in doing so they get to do the things that matter in their schools, when it matters to them and they have control. That means that have more autonomy and more focus on what matters to their school and getting the outcomes that matter. Local decision making is essential if we want to get the best outcomes, because no two communities are the same.

The member who just spoke said 'national, national, national'. My view is local, local, local—local parents, local businesspeople, local teachers and local school bodies that get together and work to overcome the disabilities and the challenges in their own school communities to get the outcomes that we are all seeking. When you build a national scheme, as the Labor Party referred to, the first thing is to get everybody involved. They failed that test. They were unable to do so. They failed the test of being able to build simple buildings in schools—outrageous costs, huge waste, buildings that actually went places.

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

Mr BROUGH: I can tell the member from WA who is having a little whinge over here I know of instances where they pulled down buildings in remote communities to put other ones up in their place with no net value. If that is what you consider value, it is no wonder the Labor government you were part of in WA was a failure and it is no wonder the federal Labor government was a failure in this area as well. Get to know your facts. Talk to the teachers, who will tell you that they actually want autonomy. They wanted autonomy and they received it from the WA government. The Queensland government has done it, as the previous member said. The Victorian government has as well. This government is delivering cash to families and to teachers, so the people who know what is needed in their schools can make those decisions. We will not be wasting money. We will not be distracting people. We will be giving schools what they need so we have the education that the country both needs and deserves. (Time expired)