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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1105


Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (15:01): My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Would the minister explain how Early Learning Languages Australia funding is assisting students across Australia and, in particular, students at Evandale Primary School in my electorate of Lyons?

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education and Training) (15:01): I am very pleased to be able to confirm for the member for Lyons that the government is keeping its 2013 commitment in foreign languages so that 40 per cent of students by 2024 will leave school proficient in a foreign language. One of the ways we are doing that—I can very confidently say, in more good news from the Abbott government—is through the Early Learning Languages Australia program, a $10 million program. In more good news from the Abbott government, we are extending Early Learning Languages Australia as a pilot to 40 schools around Australia, and one of them is Evandale Primary School in the member for Lyons' electorate where he visited very recently. We are introducing Early Learning Languages Australia study at 12 schools in New South Wales, nine in Victoria, eight in Queensland, five in WA, three in South Australia and one each in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT, which students will be able to follow throughout their schooling to the end of year 12 if they choose to do so, so that they will leave school with a foreign language.

Australia has about 15 per cent of its population proficient in a foreign language. We believe, and I am sure many other members of the House would agree, that 40 per cent is a much better target. But this is only one way in which we are promoting foreign languages in Australia. We are doing it through Early Learning Languages Australia in Arabic, French, Indonesian, Japanese and Mandarin. But we are, through the government's response to the Teacher, Education Ministerial Advisory Group, going to require all students at a tertiary institution who are studying teaching in primary school to leave with a specialty in language, science or maths—which will create the language teachers we need to actually deliver on this promise.

We are uncapping diplomas as part of the Higher Education and Research Reform Bill so that the diplomas in foreign languages will be available to anyone in Australia who wants to do a diploma in a foreign language. Through the New Colombo Plan that I share with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, we are expanding by thousands and thousands the number of Australians who will get to study overseas, thereby learning a foreign language. And we have established 11 languages in the national curriculum so that the study of those languages across Australia will be done in a consistent way in schools, and there will be five more coming down the line soon. There will be 16 languages in the national curriculum, covering most of the languages that are studied at school.

We are deeply committed to this election commitment. We are delivering on it. Every day the Abbott government can announce more good news for the Australian public because they know that we are getting on with the job while Labor continues in the cesspit of politics.