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Monday, 23 October 2017
Page: 11649

Dr McVEIGH (Groom) (13:29): I welcome this opportunity to speak on the motion from the member for Fisher in relation to the government's investment in schools. He notes quite clearly that the government's additional $23.5 billion investment in Australian schools over the next 10 years, on top of the 2016 budget, will deliver the real needs based funding that our students need to succeed in the future. It is all about a focus on all students and schools, that they be treated fairly and equitably and that students with the same need in the same sector receive the same support from the Commonwealth government. I also note the motion's important reference to the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools and the Review into Regional, Rural And Remote Education together with the Teacher Performance Assessment. They are items that I would like to contribute to in this debate in the chamber today.

I say this from the perspective of being the member for Groom, centred around the city of Toowoomba, which is Australia's second biggest inland city behind Canberra. Groom and Toowoomba are well known for their educational offerings. We are very much a regional education capital for southern inland Queensland and northern inland New South Wales, at both the primary, secondary and tertiary education levels, as well as at preschool level in our city at the same time. I categorically state, for the benefit of the chamber, that all schools in Groom will receive an increase in Commonwealth funding in 2018. Three examples of additional funding over the next 10 years, which I offer for the chamber today, are St Mary's College, a Catholic boys college, formerly a Christian Brothers college, which will receive $20.1 million; Harristown State School, a very significant school in the south-west corner of Toowoomba, which will receive $17.6 million; and Fairholme, a private girls day and boarding school—a magnificent college—which will receive $16.3 million over that period.

Other examples across the region outside Toowoomba include Mary MacKillop, a Catholic school at Highfields, where my wife has been a teacher in the past—$10.4 million. Pittsworth State High School, one of the leading agricultural high schools in the country, let alone in Queensland—$4.4 million. Oakey State School—$3.4 million.

I note the compliments from the Brisbane Catholic Education Office in months past in relation to the government's package, and I myself have had very constructive conversations, for example, with the Toowoomba Diocese Catholic Education Office, which covers most of south-west Queensland. I am a former board member of it myself, so I can appreciate the challenges, in terms of quality education and funding that education, that such boards have right across such regions.

In terms of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, the Turnbull government has locked in a new funding system that certainly boosts per-student assistance by an average of $2,300 so schools and teachers will have the support and resources that they need to focus on programs that are best suited to their students. But money alone is not enough. To measure success, the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools is underway as well. That review, headed by Mr Gonski himself, will report back to the Prime Minister and the education minister, Simon Birmingham, by March 2018. My experience in Queensland is that recognising the ability of schools to tailor their requirements to their students and their local communities is very important for the jobs of the future. The Review into Regional Rural And Remote Education complements what's already underway in terms of government assistance to the tertiary sector for rural, regional and remote students—under-represented students as well—such is the case with USQ in my city of Toowoomba.

I'm particularly pleased with the Teacher Performance Assessment. I'm surrounded by teachers: a couple of brothers-in-law, my sister, my wife, a daughter who is now a secondary school teacher and one studying primary school teaching as well. They are passionate and professional and they, like the rest of us, are focused on professional development. I very much encourage the government to continue its focus on improving educational outcomes and quality.