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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5066


Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (14:19): My question is to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy. How will access to the best possible education help Australia's students to take advantage of the opportunities of the Asian century? Why is this critical in building a stronger economy and what obstacles are there?

Dr EMERSON (RankinMinister for Trade and Competitiveness, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy) (14:19): I thank the member for Capricornia for her ongoing interest in quality education for all young people. In the Asian century the fact is that four of the top five schooling systems are now in our region—that is where our competition is. If our young people are going to have the vast array of rewarding career opportunities, we need to compete successfully with the schooling systems in the Asian region. Indeed, in the Australia in the Asian century white paper we set the goal that by 2025 Australia's schooling system would be in the top five. The only way we can do that is to reform the education system and to invest heavily in it.

In Queensland, that is not happening. In New South Wales, it is happening. Premier O'Farrell has confirmed that he has been put under enormous pressure by the Leader of the Opposition not to sign up to the agreement to which he did sign. Obviously, Mr Newman in Queensland is succumbing to that pressure because he thinks it is more important to put the interests of the Liberal Party ahead of the interests of the kids in Queensland. I say to the Premier of Queensland, 'Put the kids before the Libs.' Put the kids first. We must make sure that kids in Queensland get the same quality education as is now on offer in New South Wales. What is on offer from the Commonwealth for Queensland is $2.5 billion in extra funding. That means an average of $2.2 million per school. For those schools that are especially disadvantaged it is even more, because that is the basis of these reforms.

But the Leader of the Opposition wants to put his career before the careers of those kids who need to compete successfully in the Asian century. So put the kids before the Libs and sign up to these reforms. Instead of improving relations with our region, which this would do by having more kids travel to and from Asia, we have had the Deputy Leader of the Opposition verbal the Indonesian government. In so doing, she has embarrassed herself, she has embarrassed the parliament and she has embarrassed Australia. She should apologise or resign.