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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27401

Mr McARTHUR (2:49 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Is the minister aware of any proposals to cut funding to schools and what are the implications of such proposals?

Dr KEMP (Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the honourable member for Corangamite for his question. Of course, this government's policies have been to increase funding for education, and indeed our funding for schools is a rising proportion of GDP. But I am aware that the Leader of the Opposition has a list of 58 schools whose funding he plans to cut. He says that this hit list comprises the wealthiest schools in Australia, but when you look at the list there are some very strange features to it. The Leader of the Opposition's list does not include, for example, Melbourne Grammar, Wadhurst; Churchie, Brisbane; St Ignatius, Riverview; Queenwood; Pymble Ladies College; or Xavier College. None of these schools are on the list. He is not going to take any money away from these schools.

He is not going to take a dollar away from PLC, Sydney; Riverview; Loretto, Kirribilli; or Melbourne Grammar, Wadhurst. And he is going to take away only $20 from SCEGGS Redlands and $101 from Ravenswood. He is targeting schools like Ivanhoe Girls Grammar in the electorate of Jagajaga. He is going to take $1,540 away from that school. He has discovered the secret haven of the super rich out there in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and he is going to target these wealthy schools. He is going to take $1,603 away from Woodley Junior School in the electorate of Dunkley, $1,909 away from Mentone Grammar in the electorate of Isaacs and $1,442 away from Caulfield Grammar in the electorate of Melbourne Ports.

This list has no credibility whatsoever. The Leader of the Opposition simply has not been prepared to do the work. If you are going to play the politics of envy, you might as well do it properly. You might as well try to actually find out what the wealthiest schools in Australia are and go for them. The AEU was demanding the policy—he had to come up with something—but, when you look at the 67 schools serving the wealthiest communities by the SES measure, only 23 of these are on Kim Beazley's list. So how did he get the list? He got the list by getting his office to go back to the old discredited ERI. As members of the House will remember, in August 1996, in a public report—the Leader of the Opposition could have consulted it; he could have actually used this report to compile his hit list—KPMG said:

The ERI fails to meet most of the tests of an effective indicator of need.

Yet this is precisely where the Leader of the Opposition—this policy weak, policy lazy Leader of the Opposition—went to get his list. It reminds me of Gilbert and Sullivan's words in The Mikado:

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,

I've got a little list—I've got a little list ...

He has turned himself into the Lord High Executioner of education policy. He is the Ko--Ko of education policy—Ko-Ko Kim. The Lord High Executioner. He has got his little list and, as Gilbert and Sullivan said, it does not much matter who is on the list, because the Australian Education Union was demanding a sacrificial list. It is no wonder that the 100,000 parents of the students of the schools which are on the Leader of the Opposition's list are getting very angry indeed. They see the gross injustice of this. This is not a list of the wealthiest schools; this is a list which signifies the policy laziness and incompetence of the Leader of the Opposition. It is this government that stands up for those middle income parents who are working hard to send their children through school. We are the ones who are standing up for those parents, and you want to go out there and attack them in a totally discriminatory and unjust way.

Mr Tim Fischer —Mr Speaker, I ask: would the minister table the sacrificial list now or at a later stage?

Mr SPEAKER —The minister is at liberty to table the list if he chooses so to do.

Dr Kemp —I would have great pleasure in tabling it. I do not have it with me, but I shall—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SPEAKER —The House will come to order!

Dr Kemp —I am happy not only to table the list but for the information—

Mr SPEAKER —The minister has indicated he will table the list.

Dr Kemp —Yes, and send it to every parent in these schools.

Mr SPEAKER —That is the only requirement.