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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 121


Senator CARR (9:39 PM) —by leave—I move opposition amendments (8) and (9) on sheet 4459:

(8) Clause 69, page 63 (after line 17), at the end of the clause, add:

(3) Financial assistance for capital expenditure under subsections (1) and (2) will be allocated to schools according to need and on the basis of system wide priorities that have been determined through arrangements that have provided an advisory role for representatives of parents in the setting of those priorities.

(9) Clause 99, page 82 (after line 20), at the end of the clause, add:

(3) Financial assistance for capital expenditure under subsections (1) and (2) will be allocated to schools according to need and on the basis of system wide priorities in the case of approved non-government school systems, or state-wide priorities in the case of independent schools, that have been determined through arrangements that have provided an advisory role for representatives of parents in the setting of those priorities.

These amendments seek to provide a process for system wide or statewide priorities for the assessment of the allocation of capital grants for government and non-government schools; an explicit reference to the distribution of capital funding on a relative needs basis for schools, as defined in the various amendments that we have previously had carried this evening; bring consistency in the approach across the public, Catholic and independent sector; and require parents to be explicitly involved in the process of setting priorities for capital expenditure. These are important amendments. The amendments require the department to work with the states in determining a statewide priorities listing.

The fact remains that if you allow a billion dollars worth of funding for capital to be determined on the basis of ministerial discretion, then we will see yet another example of the National Party's `roll out the barrel' routine. Frankly, that is no way to fund our schools. There ought to be a genuine assessment of the capital needs of the schooling system within a state between regions and that ought to be done on a publicly accountable basis so that we can determine that the actual needs of students are being met by the expenditure of a billion dollars.