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Passing the Schools Bill: in the Government's court, says Labor.



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Passing The Schools Bill: In The Government's Court, Says Labor Kim Carr - Parliamentary Secretary for Education

Media Statement - 8 November 2000

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Responsibility for passage of the Government's Schools Funding Bill (States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Bill 2000) lies firmly in the Government's court, according to Labor's Senator Kim Carr. Senator Carr is Labor's Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.

The Bill, which comes back into the Senate today for a second reading, delivers $22 billion in funds for Australian government and non-government schools for 2001.

"We are simply not prepared to see a highly divisive, patently unfair system put in place -one which delivers the largest funding increases to the wealthiest schools," he said.

"The Democrats have joined Labor in expressing in strong terms our disgust at the unjust outcomes of this Bill for individual non-government schools," Senator Carr went on. "And the Bill does absolutely nothing to address the needs of government schools, whose share of Commonwealth funds had dropped under Howard's policies from 43% of total schools funding , to only 37% today. This share is set to fall to only 35% by 2004."

Senator Carr said that the Government was well aware of the community's outrage at its planned windfall grants to the wealthiest schools. "The parents of Australia know that this planned funding model is on the nose when they see it throwing millions of extra dollars at schools whose facilities most students can only dream about.

"The indoor rifle ranges, equestrian centres, laptops on every desk and the school trips to European ski resorts speak for themselves," he said. "Many parents are struggling simply to keep their kids at the local government high school, where the educational environment is nothing like so lavish. "Common sense tells you that this is wrong."

Senator Carr drew attention to the open letter, published today, from 120 prominent Australians in the arts, sciences, media, education and other professions, calling on the Parliament to reject this unfair Bill.

"Labor has acknowledged our responsibility to ensure that funding flows to schools from 1 January," Senator Carr pointed out. "But the Coalition wants to exert pressure on the Opposition parties to pass the legislation unamended.

"We recognise that the Schools Bill, in some form, must pass," he said. "But surely the Government will accede to the pressure to amend this legislation. It must be made more equitable, and that means that the Government must listen to the voices of the Australian community and its own back bench. They are calling for a fair deal for all Australian schools and their students."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.