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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4312

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:27): I thank the member for Kingston for her question. Labor has delivered a budget that not only provides for the vulnerable in our community but also, importantly, provides families that have kids at school with the assistance they need with the costs that they face. This comes on top of the significant additional investments in education that this Labor government has made over its term. We nearly doubled spending in education compared with those opposite. We are serious about education and we understand the challenges and the cost-of-living pressures that families face, and that fact was recognised in this budget.

So we are now delivering a schoolkids bonus. As the Prime Minister and the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs have said, it is $410 for primary school students and $820 for secondary school students, and it benefits over one million families. They will really welcome that support.

I am asked this question by the member for Kingston. In her electorate, 11,200 families are expected to benefit; nearly 20,000 kids are eligible for this primary or secondary schoolkids bonus. All parents know that there are costs—whether for school uniforms or excursions—that come with raising a family and getting them off to school. The fact is that there is now greater flexibility for those parents as they manage those costs.

I am asked by the member: what are the obstacles to this support? The obstacles to the schoolkids bonus are sitting on the other side of the House in this parliament, opposing this measure for Australian parents. It seems that the Leader of the Opposition and the member for North Sydney do not really trust any Australian families with extra money. The Leader of the Opposition is sending a message to Australian parents: he does not trust you with the way you run your family budget. In fact, the shadow minister had a press release out just before we came into the parliament. He has just written it off altogether and calls it a 'sugar hit'. What a massive insult to Australian parents, who every time the school term starts have got to think about where they can find those additional resources for the new uniforms, the new school shoes, the new backpack and the like.

The fact is, this will make a difference to parents who are serious about education, in the same way that the other investments this government has made have made a difference to schools right around this country. Whether it is the new facilities, whether it is teacher training support, whether it is helping kids with their literacy and numeracy, whether it is bringing a national curriculum into play or whether it is understanding that supporting education is the most important thing that we can do for the future of our country, we get it and they do not. That is why this schoolkids bonus is solid, strong Labor policy.