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Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Page: 6071

Education Funding


Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (14:28): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that, when asked yesterday about her $4.7 billion in cuts to education, she argued this question was based on false figures. I refer her to page 6-55 of last year's budget and to page 6-59 of this year's Budget Paper No. 1, which clearly show funding reductions of $1.15 billion, $0.2 billion, $1.3 billion and $2.05 billion, totalling a cut of $4.7 billion. Unless she is claiming the budget cannot be relied on, how does she reconcile her statement with—(Time expired)


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:28): I thank the member for Sturt for his question and I am more than happy to answer his question because the member for Sturt has been out there playing silly games with figures to try and confuse people. As to what he should be doing in this parliament, he should be referring to that section of the budget which shows increasing investment for our schools. Across six years it is $14.5 billion between state and federal governments and then, of course, there is the indexation figure and he should be looking at the note in that budget table that tells you the difference between our plan and the broken plan that the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Sturt have decided that they support. The difference between those two figures, footnoted in the budget papers, is $16.2 billion. So the member for Sturt, if he wants to come in and quote the budget papers ought to take himself to that budget paper and ought to ask why he and the Leader of the Opposition stand by a funding system that would rip Australian children off, that would rip Australian schools off and which conservatives like Premier O'Farrell and his education minister, Mr Piccoli—conservatives—have referred to as 'a broken system'.

Why would the Leader of the Opposition and shadow minister stand behind such a broken system and a plan to rip off Australian schools? I do not think there is any mystery. These are the people who went to the 2010 election saying that they would rip more than $1 billion out of investment in trades training centres for schools and saying that they would rip almost half a billion dollars out of improving teacher quality—our national partnership to make sure that quality teachers are teaching our kids, driven by the research which shows that there is nothing more important to the outcomes of a child's education than the quality of the teacher standing in front of the classroom. The Leader of the Opposition says to that, 'Cut it by half a billion dollars.' Some $330 million of cuts for our poorest schools is what the Leader of the Opposition took to the last election, ripping off the most disadvantaged kids and disadvantaged communities.

It goes on and on. In fact, between the last election campaign and cuts announced in February 2011, almost $3 billion of cuts to Australian schools have been announced by the Leader of the Opposition. He and his shadow minister are not done yet. That is just a curtain-raiser for the amount of hurt and harm they want to do to Australian schools and the prospects of our children getting a great quality education. That is who they are. That is what they stand for.


Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (14:31): Madam Speaker, I ask a supplementary question of the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of comments of Lisa Paul, the Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, who said in Senate estimates about education funding:

… the best guide is not the budget papers , because of these assumptions which really are no longer true …

How does she reconcile her answer with Lisa Paul's statement that the assumptions in the budget 'really are no longer true'?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:32): I can give you a very specific answer to that. It has got to do with state Liberal cutbacks to education, because of the way in which indexation works for Australian schools. The fact that the opposition frontbench and backbench are tossing their heads at this shows a decade of indifference when they were in government and have never bothered once to understand how schools are funded. The Leader of the Opposition runs out the door and says that he stands behind this broken model of school funding. Premier O'Farrell said that it is a broken model. He has never understood the details of it. The Leader of the Opposition ought to try to understand.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. To be directly relevant the Prime Minister must explain why she is not admitting the cuts that she is making—

The SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar will resume her seat!

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: and for once can she accept responsibility for her own policies?

The SPEAKER: As predicted, she did abuse the standing orders. There is no use of debate during a point of order. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: And in that alleged point of order the member misled the House.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The Prime Minister will withdraw.

Mr Abbott interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will not tell me how to do my job! The Prime Minister will withdraw. There are other forms of the House if she wishes to pursue the issue she raised.

Mr Albanese: On the point of order, Speaker, with respect: the Prime Minister indicated that the member for Mackellar had misled the House. She did not use the term 'deliberately misled', which is what would be inappropriate and unparliamentary and would require a substantive motion.

Mr Randall interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Canning will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a).

The member for Canning then left the chamber .

The SPEAKER: The silence was to give me some time to prepare a reasonable response. I would have thought that in the circumstances that was warranted. But obviously any adherence to the standing orders by anybody in this place is not. I will ask the Prime Minister to withdraw. I do understand completely what the Leader of the House has said but, given the circumstances, I am going to ask her to withdraw for the benefit of the parliament.

Ms GILLARD: Speaker, I withdraw. Let me continue with what I was saying before, because the opposition clearly does not understand the school funding system that they stand behind—the broken funding system. The indexation rates in that broken funding system are a function of what state governments are investing in education. So if state Liberal governments are cutting, it cuts the indexation rate. That means what the Leader of the Opposition stands for is state cutbacks that then equal federal cutbacks. He is already on record as wanting to rip billions of dollars out of our schools. What he has got is an agenda of cuts and harm for Australian schools. He does not believe in their future. He will not dissuade us from getting on with the job. (Time expired)