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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6276


Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:57): As we know, education is life's great leveller. It is the means through which young people's hopes and potential are made real, and it is the means through which a fair and forward-looking society enables its young people to leave productive and rewarding lives. This government has made the largest capital investment in schools in Australia's history, and it has taken on the difficult task of improving the consistency of national standards and testing, so it is only right that we should now address the biggest challenge of all, which is the fundamental reform of schools funding.

The Gonski report, released in February this year, was the first significant review of how schools are funded in over 30 years. The report concluded that schools are significantly underfunded, with 75 per cent of the shortfall missing from public schools. That is an inequity that we cannot tolerate and that we must address. Last week's McMorrow report on the implications of the federal budget for schools suggested that our current commitments would not meet the growing needs of our education system. This report highlighted the importance of overhauling the current funding arrangements and of making a substantial additional investment in schools. It is for that reason that I welcome the minister's commitment to legislate in response to the Gonski review later this year.

I strongly support the implementation of a new and comprehensive schools funding model as soon as possible, and, while this must be done in partnership with the states, it is clearly a matter for federal government leadership, such as we have shown on a number of key issues in the last 4½ years.