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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 886

Mr BROAD (Mallee) (18:52): I do enjoy talking about education, because education is very dear to my heart. I must say that there were some people who are great at maths when it came to education. There were some people who were great at English. There were some people who were great at theatre—everyone has their own passion. But I remember, on a cold June day, handing out how-to-vote cards and my Labor opponent—and I might point out that there are only 15 Labor members in the seat of Mallee—was handing out how-to-vote cards and she was saying: 'Health and education. Health and education.' I thought, 'Well, that's very good, and I said, 'Health and education, border security and lower taxes.' And do you know what? It actually worked.

This is the great irony of the debate: whilst you guys know about literacy—you do it very well—we know about numeracy. Numeracy is called making provision for the things that you want to spend your money on. Numeracy is about being responsible and saying, 'I want to fund $30 billion more, so I'm going to make provision in the forward estimates to fund that.' But they did not. They come in here and talk about a cut, but they never put the money aside and, unless you put the money aside and put it in your forward estimates, it is phantom money. It is a mystery. It vanishes. They say that 87 per cent of all statistics are made up, and I guess I am being a little hyperbolic there, but I am pointing out that what we are doing is arguing about fluffy air that was never dedicated to education.

In contrast, in 2016 the government I am a part of spent $16 billion. In 2017 we are going to spend $17 billion; in 2018 we are going to spend $18 billion. By 2020, it will be $20.2 billion of federal money into education at the same time as our state governments, whose job it is to administer and also to contribute, have been declining in their contribution to education. Not only have they been declining; but they have been forgetting about regional areas. I represent a third of the state of Victoria, some of the toughest areas, some of the areas that have as many problems as anyone, and you reckon that the state government can actually get the money to my patch? No, they do not even know it is there. I cannot recall when the Minister for Education for Victoria was even in my patch.

You come in here and talk about cuts. What I see is reality and what I see are state schools that are administered by the Labor state government of Victoria full of white ants. So I do not like to be lectured to when in real terms we are making provision in our budget and increasing the money year on year on year. There was no $30 billion cut, because you never put the money aside. You are great at literacy. You are great at spinning a line as opposed to us who have put the money aside. If you are going to make a commitment, make a commitment where you really put the money aside and account for it.

There are three things that deliver great education, and they are not just money. They include whether a child has a good home life. One of the things I am passionate about is seeing more breakfast programs in our schools. I have the 10th-poorest electorate in Australia and I see children coming to school without breakfast. The second thing, I think, is the culture. We have some really hardworking, dedicated teachers—teachers who go over and above what they should be doing. It is the culture of our schools—which is largely forgotten by the state Labor government, I have got to say—that really drives home education. The third thing, of course, is the infrastructure, but it is only part of it.

I have got to say real solutions to real problems have been addressed by our schools, because they are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. They are delivering breakfast programs at their own cost with very little help from the state government. They are delivering a great culture of education and they are putting up with white ants eating schools. So don't come in here and tell me about a $30 billion cut. When the state Labor government continues to increase education at the same rate that the government I am a part of, I will stand by and say, yes, there is a future for it. But the government I am a part of is spending $16 billion, $17 billion, $18 billion and, by 2020, $20.2 billion on education. This is what real government delivers for real people.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hastie ): The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.