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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1053

Schools: Computers


Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (14:45): Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Education. I refer the minister to testimony of departmental officials in Senate estimates yesterday that the only review undertaken of the previous government's laptops in schools program made no attempt to determine if the extra spending had actually improved student results. Minister, what is your response to this revelation?


Mr PYNE (Sturt—Leader of the House, Minister for Education) (14:46): I thank the honourable member for Higgins for her question, and I can tell her that my response was one of disbelief. I could not believe that the government had conducted a review into the so-called digital revolution. You would remember, Madam Speaker, that the previous government had to have these grandiose names for all of their programs—a la North Korea of the last few decades—and this one was called the Digital Education Revolution.

Mr Champion: A bit more lustre, Chris; a bit more lustre. Put your heart into it!

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield will desist.

Mr PYNE: It was to be a $1 billion program to deliver one million laptops in schools. The laptops of the 21st century it was called as well.

Of course after five years the program had blown out to $2.4 billion and they delivered 600,000 laptops in schools.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield might like another visit out!

Mr PYNE: They conveniently claimed another 300,000 that had already been in schools before the program even began. They conducted one review—this ranks with the BER, the pink batts program, the cash for clunkers—more Labor messes—and yesterday in estimates the department answered a question about the evaluation with: 'The evaluation was taken under a set of KPIs, which were agreed with stakeholders. It was measured against things like the number of a resource made available, the amount of usage in the classroom and those sorts of things, but no direct line of sight measure against student outcomes'. So the Labor Party spent $2.4 billion of taxpayers' money delivering two-thirds of the laptops they claimed would be delivered, and at no point thought it might be a good idea to find out if it made one jot of difference to the outcomes for students, to the results for students.

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

Mr PYNE: The member for Perth—no wonder she is shaking her head; she cannot believe it either!

Mr Champion: Oh come on, Christopher!

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield will desist!

Mr PYNE: She actually cares about students in schools, unlike the rest of the Labor Party.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield is warned!

Mr PYNE: What this proves is that the Labor Party, as we always suspected, are all foam and no beer—they are all politics and no policy; all spin and no substance—whereas the coalition want to put students first. We actually think the results for students are quite important. We do not think you should spend $2.4 billion to have a laptops in schools program, review it and not bother to find out if worked or not. We are putting students first, whereas all the Labor Party ever do is put politics first.