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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3216


Mr RANDALL (Canning) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Education. I remind the minister of his recent visit to the Ocean Road Primary School in my electorate, one of more than 240 independent public schools across Western Australia. What lessons can we learn from the educational policies in Western Australia and what is the government doing to help students achieve good outcomes at school?

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (14:42): I thank the member for Canning for his question. I am happy to tell him that, in fact, there is much to be proud of in the Western Australian school education system, and, if the voters of Western Australia on 5 April return enough coalition senators to make sure that the Senate is a workable Senate for the government, we will be able to continue to support the Western Australian government in the good work that they are doing for school students in improving their outcomes.

Contrary to the shadow minister's wrong assertions and her misinformation, the Western Australian state government have increased their spending on schools by 7.8 per cent this financial year. In fact, Western Australia has the highest level of funding per student in a government school of any state or territory in the country. In fact, Western Australia leads the country in school autonomy, with independent public schools giving more autonomy for principals, which we know improves the outcomes for students—so much so that Queensland and the Northern Territory are following their lead—and this is paying off, because they have the best results in the latest PISA data.

The best results in Australia are in Western Australia in science, maths and reading. In all three of the things that PISA tests, Western Australia is leading the nation. So they are themselves investing in their schools rather than demanding Canberra does so, they are introducing independent public schools, and we are helping them with a more robust curriculum and with an independent public schools policy to expand independent public schools, and by putting $120 million back into Western Australian schools that the Leader of the Opposition ripped out in the PEFO—the Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook—when he was the Minister for Education. In fact, Labor ripped $1.2 billion out of schools before the federal election, but—thanks to the Treasurer and the Prime Minister—we found the money to support Western Australian education. The shadow minister cannot even be bothered turning up to question time because—

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will desist.

Mr PYNE: she is in Western Australia when the parliament is sitting, continuing to spread her misinformation, her deceit and her dishonesty in Western Australia. Her job is here in Canberra, doing her job as the member for Adelaide, but she cannot be bothered. She would rather be—

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, a point of order: it was unparliamentary language. It should be withdrawn.

Mr Pyne: 'Lie' is unparliamentary; 'dishonesty' and 'deceit' are not unparliamentary.

An opposition member: That is not right. Withdraw!

Mr Pyne: I will not have you bullying the Speaker by sounding off.

Mr Fitzgibbon: Madam Speaker, a point of order: the minister's responsibility in this place is to answer questions. If he wants to attack individual members, he should do so only by way of substandard motion.

The SPEAKER: What is the point of order?

Mr Fitzgibbon: That is my point of order, Madam Speaker. He is not entitled to use answers to questions to attack members—

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter will resume his seat. I have a good memory, and I remember when the opposition was in government and using language which was stronger than that and which was allowed.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Indeed there was.

Ms Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am loath to take this point of order. As you well know, it is within the direction of the chair as to what is unparliamentary besides the word 'lied'. If you want to impugn my reputation in my previous position in this place, then I think that is fairly baseless.

Mr Pyne: I am happy to withdraw that.

The SPEAKER: The minister has withdrawn. I gave leeway to the member for Chisholm; I think as a former Speaker she is entitled to have expression, particularly in this week of freedom of speech.

Mr PYNE: Madam Speaker, I am very proud of the record of this government in school education, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Western Australian government, which is achieving the best results in the nation through the policies that we support, like independent public schooling. I look forward to working with them in the future.