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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3509


Ms BRODTMANN (Canberra) (14:36): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Will the minister update the House on how the budget is investing in education to build a smarter and fairer nation? How is this being received?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:36): I thank the member for Canberra for the question. I know how important it is to her that these students in her electorate are receiving the support from this government. Let me just look quickly at an 'us versus them' scenario to let people understand what we have done in the past and what we want to do in the future.

In the member's electorate we have spent $131 million. Seventeen libraries have been improved, 23 multipurpose halls and 21 classrooms—incidentally, about 3,000 libraries have been supported nationwide. When they were in office there were around 3,000 flagpoles supplied. Then let us look at the national curriculum and the introduction of a national curriculum with world's best standard material to be taught to kids in schools. The only contribution that we have had from the opposition was to pull the Union Jack out of the bottom drawer and reheat the history wars.

Then let us look at trades training centres—fantastic facilities. In the member's electorate she has two trades training centres. Eight schools benefit, and nationwide over 1,000 schools are benefiting from trades training centres. The coalition managed to knock up about a dozen Australian technical colleges and then wanted to cut this program in the last budget. That gives you an indication of both priorities and track record between this Labor government, which is committed to education, and those opposite, who are committed to cutting it.

In the budget we laid out the plan for the future supported by $9.8 billion of investment. It is a future where Australian schools keep pace with schools in our region, a future where Australian students get to reach their full potential and a future where a student, no matter where they live and no matter how much money their parents earn, get the same high-quality education.

I am asked by the member how it has been received. There are plenty of things that I could refer to, but I thought I would just take the Australian Primary Principals Association media release. Here it is, 'Federal budget school funding welcomed'. It is important to refer to it, because these are the school leaders and this is what they said:

It is very pleasing to see the increased school funding in the Budget for the next six years, a system of properly indexed funding for schooling based on the appropriate school resource standard and loadings based on need. This will be the backbone of school improvement.

We absolutely agree and that is what we are totally committed to, and that is what is provided for in the budget.

The Leader of the Opposition does not want to support the National Plan for School Improvement, which will see increased investment going to schools around the country. That means they will get less money, not more. Yes, they want to sack one in seven teachers, but they are not willing to commit to a National Plan for School Improvement which means that we as a nation can be sure that our students are getting the very best education they deserve.

The SPEAKER: Just before I call the member for North Sydney, those wonderful students who are part of the Rotary Adventure and Citizenship are back with us again. I thought that after the experience this morning, they would not turn up. But they are getting a very good dose of parliamentary education and we welcome them to the chamber at question time. The member for North Sydney.