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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3268


Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (14:23): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Will the minister outline to the House how last night's budget builds a smarter and fairer nation by investing in our children's education?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:23): I thank the member for La Trobe for her question, knowing her strong commitment to education in her electorate. The fact is that last night's budget placed caring for Australians in the future front and centre of the agenda of this government and ensured that young Australians and those with disability have hope in the years to come. Let's not forget: in this country year-9 students from the poorest quarter of Australian families are on average three years of schooling behind students from the wealthiest quarter. Let's not forget that, despite some pockets of success, we have slipped globally in our international standings. Our neighbours are pulling away while we are standing still. We on this side of the House know that a good education can be the difference between getting the high-skilled jobs of the 21st century or being left behind, and that is why we made the smart education investments in last night's budget: $9.8 billion to drive the reforms in the National Plan for School Improvement, an investment I know everyone on this side of the chamber is proud of.

I am asked about reactions, and I cannot say the same for the conservative side of politics. There are some exceptions, as I said yesterday; I do not agree with everything Premier O'Farrell says, but on the plan for school improvement he is pretty correct. It provides additional resources and fairer distribution to deliver higher standards and better outcomes in schools across New South Wales.

Unfortunately for the schoolchildren of the nation, the Leader of the Opposition does not share this vision. There he was again on Sunrise this morning with Kochie, who gave him another chance to discard the lycra and put the politics aside; but, true to form, the Leader of the Opposition went negative. The host says: 'You have time to think about this—the whole Gonski report, the education funding. New South Wales has already signed up. Will you keep the deal?' Mr Abbott: 'Well, we don't know what the deal is.' It is no surprise there that he has not bothered to read something again, but Kochie was surprised. He said, 'You haven't rung your mate Barry O'Farrell—he's in the next electorate to you—and said, "What's the details?"' The Leader of the Opposition: 'We're not going to sign up to anything were not convinced is a good deal.'

Look at the contrast: a conservative premier who sees the importance of education, understands how the National Plan for School Improvement works and has signed up to it to deliver an extra $5 billion to students in that state versus the Leader of the Opposition here, who thinks the injustice in the education system is that public schools get too much funding, has not even read the National Plan for School Improvement and sees no hope in a budget that delivers $9.8 billion in extra investment for schools around the nation.