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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5006


Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (14:43): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Will the minister inform the House how the government is helping families to meet the costs of educating their children? Why is it important that the government does this and are there any obstacles?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:43): I would like to thank the member for Capricornia for her question. This budget was important because it provided an opportunity for families to get additional support as they face cost of living pressures when they are raising their kids and sending them to school. Not only was it spreading the benefits of the mining boom, not only was it focused on the vulnerable in our community, but it was making sure that at that time of the year when parents know that they have got additional schooling costs—the start of term 1, the start of term 3—if their kids are in primary school for each kid they could get $410, and if their kids were in high school they could get $820. This was a really good, positive measure that was put forward by this government, who understands that these costs are real for working families.

Of course it came on top of record levels of investment in education by this Labor government over time. We have seen a national curriculum delivered. We have seen improvement in school facilities right around Australia. We have seen computers coming into high schools so that every kid in years 9 to 12 has the opportunity to get into the digital age. On top of all of that, we have got a budget which provides not only the tax relief that the Treasurer spoke about but also help for parents who face real cost of living pressures and know that some extra money for new school books, a uniform, some sports gear, or whatever it might be, would help them with raising their families.

The question that I was asked, about how important this help from the government is, goes right to the heart of the challenges that parents face as they are educating their kids. When a kid comes home and says to their mum or dad, 'I need a little bit extra for a school excursion,' the parents have got to find that money out of their own pocket. We understand that these are real costs for parents around Australia. But when the Leader of the Opposition chose to block the schoolkids bonus he was saying in effect that he does not trust families to make those decisions. I do not think many people understand that 1.3 million families will benefit from this schoolkids bonus. That is 1.3 million families whom the Leader of the Opposition—who wants them to trust him as a politician—was not prepared to trust to make decisions about educating their families. I think that speaks volumes about the Leader of the Opposition.

The shadow minister for education said something like, 'This is just a sugar hit.' I suspect that left a sour taste in the mouths of a few people around Australia when they heard it. It highlights the fact that those opposite do not understand that families face real cost of living pressures and that this government is providing them with support as they send their kids to school.