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Tuesday, 19 June 2001
Page: 27941

Dr KEMP (Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (10:21 PM) —Again we have another pathetic set of falsehoods and distortions from the member from Dobell. Let me take the sort of comments that he makes one by one. He says that our funding for government schools has increased no faster than inflation—indexed for inflation. Every objective observer looking at the budget papers will see that funding for government schools from this government in the past five years has gone up some $669 million. That is how much more in this coming budget year it will be, compared with when we came to office— $669 million, a 43 per cent increase. The member for Dobell expects us to believe that, somehow or other, this is what inflation has been over the last five years. He said that it was no more than inflation—we have had 43 per cent inflation over the last five years. That is simply not the case, and everybody who considers those figures can see that that is not the case. The question arises: why should anyone believe anything that the member for Dobell says?

Let me talk about these category 1 schools, because we hear again and again this pathetic mantra. It breeds a sense of despair amongst the two million parents in the non-government sector, because this is a man who is so arrogant that he believes that he does not even have to address the arguments which are raised to show the falseness of what he says. He simply repeats the union mantra again and again. He is like a puppet sitting on the knee of Denis Fitzgerald, the President of the Australian Education Union. That is where the Labor Party's education policy comes from—this pathetic puppet who simply mouths this mantra time after time.

These are the richest schools in Australia, he tells us. Looking at the list, you cannot help wondering why Riverview is not on this list, or why Loretto, Kirribilli is not on the list, or why Queenwood is not on the list, or why Melbourne Grammar, Wadhurst is not on the list, or why Xavier College, Melbourne is not on the list. Is the Labor Party telling us that these are not amongst the wealthiest schools in Australia? The fact is that this is not a list of the wealthiest schools in Australia. This is a grab bag of schools designed to provide the Leader of the Opposition with the amount of money that he needs. And it is totally arbitrary, because schools that are in exactly the same situation, serving exactly the same parent body in terms of socioeconomic level, with exactly the same resources, are not on the list. This little list has been prepared because, as in the words of Gilbert and Sullivan, `as some day it may happen that a victim must be found'. A victim was necessary to lay on the altar as a sacrifice to the Australian Education Union so that the member for Dobell and the Leader of the Opposition could get up and beat their chests and say, `Look what brave people we are. We are actually attacking these wealthy schools.' I can tell the member for Dobell and the Leader of the Opposition that, when they go to Labor's marginal seats in Sydney and Melbourne, they are going to have to explain to some very angry parents who do not believe that they are millionaires and who do not believe that their schools are rich why the Labor Party believes that they should be paying another $1,000, $2,000 or even up to $3,000 extra in their school fees. That is what I call an education cut.

Dr KEMP —The member for Melbourne Ports, who has six of these schools in his electorate, has come into the House and he is panicking. When the new formula comes in, many Jewish community schools and day schools in his electorate are going to find that the new assets test on schools that the member for Dobell pledges he is going to introduce will be catching them as well. This is the most iniquitous and unjust attitude that has been taken by the Labor Party, and two million non-government school parents around Australia are going to be very angry indeed about it.