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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3482

Mr SECKER (2:45 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education. Will the Minister for Education explain how it is an efficient use of taxpayers’ money to provide national school pride grants of $125,000 each to the Smithfield Plains and Gepps Cross primary schools when both of these schools are slated for demolition? Minister for Education, won’t the projects that this money funds be a lot more temporary than the so-called temporary deficit to be announced later today?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for his question—of course, a member who is opposed to this expenditure on schools in his community. If the member chooses to check the guidelines of the program he is opposed to, because of course he is opposed to this money going to schools in his community and in South Australia generally, he will find that it is not the federal government that makes decisions about when schools close. Those decisions are made by school systems—made by state school systems, made by the Catholic school system and made by independent schools.

We have said to schools around the country that we want to work with them and benefit them. We have also said to our state and territory colleagues and to the block grant authorities in the Catholic and independent school sectors that we want to see this money spent on schools that are going to be there in the future, and we are working with those block grant authorities and state and territory governments on precisely that question.

If the member had at any point chosen to look at the material on the website, he would have been aware of that. He could have answered his own question. But, of course, he wanted to come into this parliament and try and cast a slur on this program, because he knows, like every member of the opposition, that school communities around the nation want this expenditure, that tradespeople around the nation want this work. Each and every day of the adjournment from this parliament they have been there, twisting and turning in their own electorates, unable to explain to school principals—

Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, on a point of order. I draw your attention to standing order 98, which limits the matters which might be put to a minister by way of question, which include administration but not obfuscation. This question could be simply answered to the benefit of all by the simple act of saying—

The SPEAKER —The member for O’Connor will resume his seat. The question was in order.

Ms GILLARD —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I will remember to ask the member for O’Connor to appear with me at literacy week functions, given his well-thumbed standing orders! I think that is an example to all of us. But my simple point is this: the member opposite has been asked by the tactics committee to try and cast a slur over this program, because members of the opposition—and I can see it written on the faces of the marginal seat members there—cannot explain in their local communities why the opposition is opposed to this measure to modernise schools and is opposed to this measure to support jobs. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to swing around and look into the eyes of the marginal seat members on his back bench, he will see it written all over their faces.