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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5208


Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (15:53): I welcome the opportunity to respond to some of the false claims and other questions put to me by the shadow minister. In relation to the way in which we have committed ourselves to a national plan for school improvement based on indexation that the Commonwealth will apply of 4.7 per cent and seeking to secure three per cent in indexation as a commitment from states, the fact is that the indexation that we are committing for the future and the decisions that we have made are based on current state budget decisions and estimates. They apply the existing method for calculating indexation, and it shows very clearly that over the coming years indexation will fall to around three per cent. This means less money from the Commonwealth for all schools. That is the basic fact here that the shadow minister continues to ignore.

On a range of other questions that the shadow minister has put to me, I am happy to provide some additional detail for his edification. I refer him to my press release, titled Pyne letter fails the fact test. I am sure he had an opportunity to consider that release at the time that it was released, which was late May—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr GARRETT: Yes, you should have a read of it and, on that basis, be well informed about the National Plan for School Improvement. The fact is that the considerable commitment in the budget to education was a continuation of what has been one of the most significant and important reform areas for this Labor government: policy and investment. There is total spending in all three portfolio areas at around $20.7 billion, and an overall spending outlined in the forward estimates for the next four years for schools of some $64 billion, with $25.1 billion for early childhood and $275.9 million for youth. Overall spending for the National Plan for School Improvement is $9.8 billion over six financial years. This is consistent with the Prime Minister's offer to the states for a two-for-one effective investment in our schools, realising some $14.5 billion for Australian schools to see a fairer funding model in place from 2014.

The effect of the coalition's position both on indexation and on school investment broadly would be to see a lessening in school investment over time to the tune of $16.2 billion, taking into account the additional investments that I have identified. That, regrettably, is the situation that the shadow minister finds himself in: no commitment on his side to increase investment in education at all, and us on the other hand with a plan for school improvement which has been budgeted for and for which I am pleased to say legislation is in the House, and those amendments will likewise be in the House.

I refer a little bit further to the questions put to me by the shadow minister. I am not familiar with the article by Mr Anthony that he referred to. What I say is that the investment contained in the budget which we committed ourselves to will secure a funding future for schools right around Australia. Now, all that remains to happen is for state governments—as the New South Wales state government has wisely determined to do—to sign on for the National Plan for School Improvement. I do not think there is any doubt at all that when you look at the range of investments, the quantum of investment that we have made and the significant reforms in education—some of which I will refer to later on if I get the opportunity—we can see that this budget continued that outstanding record of both investment and policy reform.

Finally, to state premiers and state treasurers: our commitment is in our budget. You have that opportunity in the budgets you are bringing down now to make a similar commitment. If you do that you will put in place the necessary resources to secure the needs in education that students across your states face.