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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 1418

Mr PYNE (SturtMinister for Education) (15:17): That speech by the Leader of the Opposition was 24 hours out of date. The Leader of the Opposition is still trying to cling to the notion that the Labor Party was putting the same amount of money in as the coalition. Unfortunately for the Leader of the Opposition, in the last 24 hours, the coalition is putting $1.2 billion more into school education than Labor would have done had they been re-elected. In the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook, Labor reduced the additional funds to schools from $2.8 billion over four years to $1.6 billion over four years. That speech by the Leader of the Opposition might have worked if it had not been for two important facts. Firstly, he was the one who ripped $1.2 billion out of schools—

Ms Kate Ellis interjecting

Mr PYNE: You admitted it yourself in the media. It was a tragedy for you. On Meet the Press you admitted that you had ripped out $1.2 billion. That followed shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen admitting it on ABC 24 on Thursday. You say nobody believes it. But you believe it, because you admitted it on Sunday and Chris Bowen admitted it on Thursday. We know that you took the $1.2 billion and ran with it. The first fact is that you took the money. The second fact is that the coalition put it back in. Yesterday we put $1.2 billion back in. Rather than the Labor Party coming into the House and thanking the government for putting more money into school students over the next four years, we are in this ironic, ludicrous position where Labor is coming into the House and pretending that did not happen: 'Let's just pretend yesterday did not happen—2 December, just wipe it off. We were asleep—Rip Van Winkle. We have woken up and nothing really changed on Monday.' So Labor have kept their question pack from last week. They have kept their MPI speech from last week—and the Leader of the Opposition just gave it.

The ironic thing about the Leader of the Opposition's speech and all the questions that were asked today is that, if Labor had been re-elected, the loadings for children with disadvantage, the funding to achieve the student resource standard in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, would never have been delivered. We have had a conga line of questioners come up to the dispatch box today demanding that we put in the loadings for disadvantaged students—which we have done yesterday—which they took out in the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook! If Labor had been elected, students with disadvantage in Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory would not have got the loadings, would not have got the extra support, would not have reached the student resource standard. It was because the coalition was elected, and because yesterday we put the $1.2 billion in, that they are getting the loadings, that they are getting the support to reach the student resource standard. We inherited a very serious mess and we are moving to fix it up.

The Leader of the Opposition, in his MPI speech, said it was all about trust. The lack of sincerity that Bill Shorten can bring to bear on the subject of trust is not worth writing about! Julia Gillard could not trust him. He said he was 100 per cent behind Julia Gillard. Bill Shorten did not go so far as the member for Lindsay, who said he would have a tattoo put on his forehead rather than not vote for Julia Gillard. But Bill Shorten said he was 100 per cent behind Julia Gillard—until he stabbed her in the back. He said he was 100 per cent behind Kevin Rudd—until he stabbed Kevin Rudd in the back. You know, the really sick thing about that night in 2010—I was in parliament and I heard the whole thing—was that Bill Shorten was bragging to people about how easy it was. He thought taking out a Prime Minister would be tough, he thought it would be hard. He was bragging to his right-wing factional mates in Sussex Street, 'It was much easier than I expected.' And this is the man that comes to the dispatch box to lecture us about trust! It is a remarkable audacity for the Leader of the Opposition.

So we inherited a mess. We inherited a situation where there was $1.2 billion removed from school funding. We inherited a school funding model that was not national—that did not include Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory—and where every state and territory had a different indexation rate, and every state and territory needed to reach the student resource standard at different percentages over different years. It was a complete shambles—

Ms Kate Ellis interjecting

Mr PYNE: And the member for Adelaide says, 'Scrap it all.' Unfortunately, she is still trying to catch up. We have not scrapped anything. We have actually made a national agreement. We have created the national agreement that you failed to create. I know it is hard for Labor to accept, because they say: 'We're best at health and we're best at education. Yes, you're better with the economy, and you're better at defence, and you're better at national security, but we're better at education and health.' They always say it. How tragic for them to have to show up to question time and admit that we are putting more money into schools than they would have and that I, of all people, achieved the national agreement on school funding, which they said I could never do! But quietly, methodically, calmly, behind the scenes for the last 11 weeks I have been talking with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory about bringing about a national agreement, and I achieved it.

I must admit I am very pleased that those extra funds are going to students around Australia, because it allows us to move on to the real issues in education: to quality and standards; to principal autonomy, which we on this side of the House are very attached to; to quality teaching, which we think is the most important thing you can do to bring about good outcomes for students; and to parental engagement—because, unlike the Labor Party, we are not trying to push parents away from their children in schools. We want parents to be deeply engaged in their children's education—to ask them when they get home from school: 'How much homework do you have? What areas is it in? How long do you think it will take? Can I help you to do it?' We want parents to be deeply engaged, and that is one of our three pillars. And, finally, we want a robust curriculum. We want a strong, orthodox curriculum that achieves the outcomes that we believe in in Australia for our students, because we want them to have the best outcomes possible.

Mr Perrett: It's the Eureka Stockade anniversary today. Are you going to get rid of that too?

Mr PYNE: I know it is hard to take, member for Moreton. It is hard to take that this side of the House is delivering more money, delivering a national agreement—and actually, incredibly, getting to implement its policies, because we won the election. You are the government-change deniers on that side of the House! As far as you are concerned, every now and then the Liberals win an election—we have governed for two-thirds of the last 60 years, but we will put that aside for one moment. We are apparently allowed to win an election, but woe betide us if we actually try to implement our policies! That is outrageous! We are not allowed to do it on the carbon tax. We are not allowed to do it on the minerals resource rent tax. We are not allowed to stabilise the economy through the debt ceiling. We are not allowed to introduce temporary protection visas. We are not allowed to focus on quality and standards for our students. We are not allowed to do these things—because we won the election, and we were supposed to keep Labor's policies in place!

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

Mr PYNE: Well I have some news for the member for Perth. I know it is not going to be easy. I have some news for her: she is on the wrong side of the House to implement policies; we won the election, and we will. We said we would keep the same level of funding as Labor. We have gone one better: we have put $1.2 billion in. We said that we would have a national scheme, and we have delivered it, unlike Bill Shorten when he was the minister for education. And we said that we would remove the command-and-control features from Canberra that were inherent in the model: that we would take away the red tape and the regulation, and that we would get rid of the School Performance Institute, the ministerial directions from Canberra about performance and implementation, and the federal inspectorate of schools—we said we would get rid of those and we will. So we will have a better model with more money. And it will be national.

So where to from here? We will have a four-year funding agreement as promised. In 2014, we will amend the Australian Education Act to deliver the policies that we took to the election, because we on this side of the House think it is really important to keep your election commitments. We will keep our election commitments, unlike Labor. In 2007 they made commitments; they broke them. In 2010 they made commitments; they broke them. They said there would not be a carbon tax; they introduced one. They have so traduced people's faith in the Australian parliament that we will make sure in this parliament that we restore people's faith in the government because we will keep our commitments, just like we are on schools and education.