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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 33

Senator WORTLEY (2:54 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Senator Carr. Can the minister inform the Senate what action the government is taking to stimulate the Australian economy by building school infrastructure?

Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —I thank Senator Wortley for the question.

Senator Abetz —Are they going to get computers in them?

Senator CARR —It is a pity, Senator Abetz, you were not able to listen to this. The government has today announced it will be boosting jobs and investing in Australia’s long-term future by building or upgrading buildings in every one of Australia’s 9,450 schools. This $14.7 billion Building the Education Revolution initiative is a massive shot in the arm for our economy and for our education system. It highlights the government’s determination to significantly improve the educational outcomes for all Australian students. Building the Education Revolution is a long-term investment in improving the quality of our school facilities, no matter where that school is or whether it is a government school or a non-government school. Building the Education Revolution will also support local communities. It will be a condition of funding that schools make the new facilities, such as the halls and libraries, available for community use at no or low cost.

Building the Education Revolution will begin this financial year and will be rolled out over the next three years. It will be delivered through cooperation between the Commonwealth and the state and territory governments and the non-government school sector. This is an historic initiative that reverses a decade of neglect and lays the foundations for the future. This is an initiative that provides genuine opportunities for all children in the Commonwealth of Australia. This is an opportunity for all schools and all communities to address some of the fundamental needs facing these communities. (Time expired)

Opposition senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Resume your seat, Senator Wortley. I will not call you until there is silence.

Senator Coonan —That’s the Rees rescue package.

Senator Abetz —It’s the Nathan-building package, not nation-building.

The PRESIDENT —The time for debate is after question time!

Senator WORTLEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister outline further to the Senate the main elements of the package?

Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —I will indeed. Building the Education Revolution consists of three programs. The $12.4 billion Primary Schools for the 21st Century program will build or upgrade multipurpose halls, libraries and other large-scale infrastructure in all primary schools, special schools and schools that are known as K-12. There will be $1 billion for Science and Language centres for 21st Century Secondary Schools program, which will build around 500 new science laboratories and language learning centres in schools with a demonstrable need and where there is a readiness and a capacity to complete construction by 30 June 2010. There will be a $1.3 billion national school pride program, which will refurbish and renew existing infrastructure and undertake minor building works. (Time expired)

Senator WORTLEY —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister explain how Building the Education Revolution will benefit trade training?

Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —This initiative builds on other education revolution initiatives, including the $2.5 billion Trades Training Centres in Schools Program. Building the Education Revolution brings forward up to $110 million to fund quality proposals in round 2 of the Trade Training Centres in Schools Program. The government has also today announced the $511 million training and learning bonus, which provides for an upfront, one-off bonus to assist eligible students with their costs for the 2009 academic year. It also provides a temporary additional incentive for social security recipients to return to education and training. This incentive will be available until June 2010. Around 440,000 students and people returning to study will be paid this one-off cash bonus. I look forward to the opposition supporting these initiatives. (Time expired)