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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 107


Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) (8:39 PM) —Senator Allison condemns herself from her own mouth in telling the world that she is just unfamiliar with the view that parents want more information about what is happening with their children in schools. Her proposition is that they are quite happy—that she has asked them and they have said, `Yes, it's fine.' We are obviously talking to different people. Nonetheless, I am not sure that the senator's remarks were on the point that I think we are discussing—which is the addition of 14A after clause 14; that is, amendment (4) proposed by the opposition. That amendment highlights the difference between us. It says that `information from school reports is to provide assistance to schools and to teachers'—yes, let us provide it to the schools and the teachers; the little club. We want it provided publicly to the parents. We have already established that Senator Allison is happy to keep the parents in the dark. She does not want the information made public. She uses the royal `we'—`we' can all talk about it but that there is no need for the parents to have that information.

Paragraph (b) of the amendment says that `information from school reports is to provide assistance to schools and to teachers'. Paragraph (c) deals with some matters that we will deal with by negotiation, and then subsequently by regulation—so there is plenty of opportunity for people to have their say out in the sector as well as in this place on another occasion. It is worth pointing out that the Labor Party amendment wants reporting by schools on students' learning to include a `comprehensive range of information of related factors that includes'—I think it should be `include'; I could be wrong—`the resources available to the school, the enrolment policies of the school, student admission and exclusion policies, qualifications and accreditation standings of teaching staff, curriculum offerings at the school, and policies and programs for student discipline'.

Again, it is all about the school and the teachers and not about the outcomes. This is about inputs; it is not about what happens at the end—what they produce. Parents are sending their kids to school and they want to know what is happening. They want to judge the performance of the school. When they are putting an effort in or putting their most valuable resource there they do want a bit of competition. They want to be sure it is working. In one sense you might say that the inputs and policies are not something they want to debate—that is for specialists. They want the information on what is happening as a consequence of that debate. What are the outputs from the school? The Labor Party is all about schools and teachers and inputs; we are all about parents and students and outcomes.