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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1466

Education Funding

Mr MELHAM (Banks) (14:53): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. What are the important reform elements that underpin the Australian Education Bill 2012currently before the parliament, and can the minister inform the House of the responses to the bill?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:53): I thank the member for Banks for his question. He has seen $83,277 million worth of project investment in his electorate. There have been over 100 projects improving schools right around the electorate of Banks because on this side of the House we do understand how important education is to a child's future, for the parents hopes for their child and also of course to the economy. On Tuesday, we had the extraordinary situation where the leader of opposition business, who is also the shadow minister for education, tried to stop the debate on the Australian Education Bill.

It is an important bill that will provide the directions for the National Plan for School Improvement, locking in important reforms, higher teacher standards and giving every student quality learning opportunities and more power in the hands of school leaders. It was not surprising, I guess, that the member for Sturt wanted to lock out that debate given the decade of neglect that we had from those opposite on education: an unfair funding model, flagpoles instead of libraries, history wars instead of a national curriculum—who could forget that episode. He was possibly even concerned about the contributions from members on his own side, because actually some opposition members did talk about education reform. The member for Aston offered his thoughts on improved education outcomes, saying, 'Improve teacher training and lift teacher quality in schools, have a rigorous national curriculum, more school empowerment.' The member for Murray highlighted the current declining state—

Mr Hawke: I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is no secret that the member for Banks and I do not get along, but he asked about the priorities that underpin this bill. The bill is nine pages and the minister is not addressing what priorities underpin this bill.

The SPEAKER: The member for Mitchell will resume his seat. The minister has the call.

Mr GARRETT: The members should listen to this answer because some of his own members have identified those priorities, as I am pointing out, with the member for Murray highlighting the declining state of educational opportunity in her rural electorate. The member for McPherson stated that it is the right of every child to receive a world-class education. Of course, the member for Bowman had already got in on the act by 'giving a Gonski', but there you go.

It is obvious that these members have had a look at the National Plan for School Improvement. All of the elements are there: tick for excellence, tick for equity, tick for teacher quality, tick for a national curriculum, tick on school leadership, tick for the fact that country schools will be properly resourced under a National Plan for School Improvement. Now that just left the member for Sturt, and we do not often get to hear the member for Sturt speaking on education in here. But he clearly laid the coalition's intention on education: to stick to a broken funding system that is failing too many kids. His speech made it clear that for every parent in a small, one school regional town, or a low-income family who do not have any choice in the school they send their child to, the opposition and the member for Sturt believe that they should be having a model that leaves kids behind. We will deliver a model that supports kids for education. (Time expired)