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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10376

New South Wales Government

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (14:33): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation. I am really concerned that the New South Wales government's budget funding cuts are hurting every school in my electorate. Why is it important that governments manage their fiscal duties in a responsible way that helps families, children and local communities?

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (14:33): I thank the member for Parramatta for her question. This government understands the importance of managing the budget for all Australians. That is why we are making responsible savings in order to return the budget to surplus this year. But, because we are a Labor government, we are determined to manage the economy responsibly, in a way that does not leave people behind. In fact, we are providing more support for families and communities than ever before. We are determined to make sure we have a strong economy, but we want to build a fairer society as well. That is why we have introduced the Schoolkids Bonus; that is why we have increased family payments; and that is why we have delivered $47 billion worth of tax cuts in the term of this government.

But hardworking families and communities are facing an unprecedented threat, and it is coming from state Liberal premiers. Yesterday we saw the New South Wales Liberal government announce funding cuts of $1.7 billion to education. These are the biggest, the most vicious, the most aggressive cuts to education funding in New South Wales in the last 20 years. Guess what. That is when the Liberals were last in government—when the most vicious cuts prior to this were inflicted.

The member for Parramatta knows—representing a part of the world that I also represent, western Sydney—just how much of an impact these cuts are going to have for the people of western Sydney. But it is not just her and me who feel this way. There is another memberfor Parramatta. He is the Liberal member for Parramatta in New South Wales. He was quoted in the Telegraph today saying, about these education funding cuts:

These are our people in western Sydney, the aspiring, and these are the ones we should be supporting, not cutting them down.

It is Labor governments that invest in the skills of people like the people of western Sydney. It is the Liberals that are out there cutting them down. And we can guarantee that they will do it again. If this mob ever get into government, they will do the same thing. How do we know that? We know that because they have got a $70 billion black hole. If they can do this sort of damage in New South Wales with $1.7 billion worth of cuts, imagine how much damage they can do the country if they have to rip out the amount of cuts involved to fill their $70 billion black hole. We know that they have already announced $2.8 billion worth of cuts to education, but it is not the cuts that they have announced that you have got to worry about; it is the ones that they have not announced yet. One of the first things the Leader of the Opposition will do, straight out of the Campbell Newman playbook, is establish a commission of audit. The commission of audit will be all about making sure that they get to inflict the cuts that they have not had the opportunity to take to the Australian people before the election.

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (14:36): Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. The minister has talked about the impact of government fiscal policies on education. What does this mean for schools in my electorate?

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (14:37): I know that the member for Parramatta cares very deeply about all of the schools in her electorate. She is right to ask the question, because the impact of these cuts will be devastating. It will be devastating and it will hit every single school in her electorate—every government school, every Catholic school and every independent school. No school will be safe from the ravages of these vicious cuts that we are seeing in New South Wales.

How do we know exactly what the consequences of these sorts of cuts might be? On Friday there was a letter circulated to principals in the Parramatta diocese—

Mr Tudge interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Aston is warned!

Mr BRADBURY: by the executive director of Catholic education, Mr Gregory Whitby, who I also had the opportunity to speak to today. In his letter, he spoke about what the impact of these cuts might be. He said that this decision will have a profound impact on costs for Catholic schooling. Fees will have to rise, and other measures like school closures and staff reduction may be necessary. So, if you want to know what the impact of these funding cuts is going to be, if you want to know about the impact of the funding cuts that a future Liberal federal government would inflict if they got the opportunity, it is about jacking up fees for parents; it is about cutting funding for schools; and, in some cases, it is even about leading to school closures.