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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 124

Senator NETTLE (9:48 PM) —I indicate that the Greens will be supporting these two amendments. As Senator Allison explained, these two amendments seek to have a review of the funding of schools. In particular, amendment (19) is looking at the impact of this legislation. As I outlined in the second reading debate, the Greens have a position whereby we seek to remove funding from the very wealthiest private schools and freeze the funding of the other private schools while we have a similar style review to look at the impact of this continuing policy of the government to pour public funds into these private schools—the impact on equity, educational outcomes and provisions.

The amendments we are talking about at the moment go to providing some kind of audit for the public of what assets and resources these non-government schools have. The Greens have had a long-held concern that we do not have the same reporting requirements for non-government schools. We as members of the public or of parliament or governments making decisions to put additional funds into private schools do not know how many rifle ranges the parents of those private schools have already funded. We do not have that accountability requirement for the private schools. We do not get to see how many other assets and what income streams they have. This information would enable decisions to be made about the equity, or the needs based analysis to be made that the opposition speaks of, when governments are making decisions about the amount of government funding that should be provided to independent or private schools.

We are certainly supportive of any reviews which seek to delve into the dark dungeons of the accounts of private schools—information that is not otherwise available to the public. Public education advocates like the Greens would very much like to be aware of how many assets, how many educational, sporting or extracurricular capital investments are owned by the schools, were given by the parents of the school or received from other income sources that we do not know about. We simply do not have that information on the record. It makes it very difficult for governments or anyone who seeks to bring any equity to the system to make those decisions without that information.

This government has decided that it is not interested in making those decisions on the basis of equity—or maybe it has that information; I do not know. I do know that we do not have that information. We do not know how much money or assets these schools have, where their income comes from or what their other income generating streams are. Any review that brings that information to the public is something the Australian Greens are happy to support.

Question agreed to.