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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11239


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. How is the government investing in education to equip Australians with the skills they need for the jobs of the future?

Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (15:08): I thank the member for Kingston for her question, because I know that she works very hard in that electorate for schools. She is making sure that we continue to deliver a really profound reform agenda in education not only in South Australia but right around the country.

I doubt whether anyone would have imagined pre-2007 that a federal government would double the investment in education over the quadrennium. That is what this government has done. We are now spending double, in terms of investment, what the coalition spent on education—some $65 billion investment in schools, trade training centres, the transparency agenda and, most importantly, lifting up those kids in schools around Australia to make sure that they are well equipped to come out of school and into a further learning or working experience.

We are driven by a central conviction that education in Australia is the great enabler and that every single Australian student is entitled to the best and fairest education that they can get. We have a number of directed investments specifically geared to that aim. It is not just Building the Education Revolution; people tend to think of it as bricks and mortar. It is true that we are improving the infrastructure in schools in ways never seen before but that also improve the teaching and learning conditions in the school. When teachers and kids walk into new assembly halls, new science labs, and new classrooms—with whiteboards up on the wall—they are learning well. They are being taught well. That is the kind of investment that really counts and it is also the kind of investment that is a legacy of the decisions that have been taken by this government and by the Prime Minister in her former role as Minister for Education.

We are not just talking about university and academic pursuits—important as they are; we are also talking about recognising that, if we are going to meet the skills shortages of the future, we need to make sure that young Australians have an opportunity to get on the skills pathway whilst they are still at school. That is why we are investing $2.5 billion in trade training centres, giving kids the opportunity to get on that skills pathway with good learning at an early age. These investments are making a profound difference to education right around Australia and they are enabling young Australians to be confident learners and to be successful as they take on their careers post school.

As well as that, we have investments in transparency, with the My School website, a national curriculum and national standards for the first time. It is like railroad tracks with different gauges in different states; our teachers should have the same national standards. Our kids should have the same national entitlement to the curriculum. These are serious, substantial education reforms that lie right at the heart of Labor's agenda and right at the heart of our national purpose.

I want to make the point that all we hear from the opposition is negativism. They wanted to take $2.8 billion out of the education budget—

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will bring his response to a close.

Mr GARRETT: These investments are making a profound difference to the opportunities that young Australians in every state have. Regardless of where they live, regardless of how much their parents earn, regardless of which school they go to, under this government every young Australian will get the best and fairest education they can, because we are providing that investment.