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Thursday, 20 September 2018
Page: 9749


Mrs SUDMALIS (Gilmore) (16:16): Just now I thought I was back in my entomology class, learning to pin butterflies. Alas! It was a weak link to economic modelling. I have been in this House for more than five years, and I saw the beginning of the Gonski model of educational funding. The first four years were funded; the fifth and sixth were not. It was like sending a rocket ship up to become a satellite to make sure it measured educational process, but the rocket ship from the Labor Party was only half full of the fuel it needed. Our government, on the other hand, has a rocket ship at a slower trajectory climb, and it's got a full load of fuel, which means our plan is fully funded and is going to work. I think that's pretty good, actually.

But do you know what? Another comparison came to mind when I was listening to members on the other side. We have a bucket that we call the 'revenue bucket'. We get more people employed. We have a great economy. We fill that bucket up so we can spend it on all the services that we need for our nation. Unfortunately, when Labor is in government, that bucket looks more like a colander. It has lots of revenue and lots of leaks. It all goes, and it becomes a bigger and bigger problem.

I was listening to one of the speakers who talked about a moral imperative and the need for individualised attention and individualised learning and mentoring. I agree. This is absolutely critical. I'm one of the probably few members of parliament here who have actually taught in a classroom for 10 years, and I've tutored trainee teachers at university. Just throwing money at a school is not going to fix the problem. We do need better outcomes for our children. We already know that just throwing heaps of money in is not making the slightest bit of difference in the OECD figures. There are amazing programs right now that are developing and inspiring our students, and they continue to get increased funding.

The federal government is providing a huge investment, over $300 billion, in recurrent funding to all Australian schools from 2018 to 2029. For example, in Gilmore, each student at Ulladulla High School will receive $3,581 in funding for 2019, and by 2027 this will grow to $5,115. At Sanctuary Point Public School, each student will receive $3,356 in funding for next year, and by 2027 this will be $4,794. Each student at Nowra East Public School will receive $4,653 next year, and by 2027 this will be $6,646. At Batemans Bay High School, which was actually visiting here today and may still be in the gallery, each student will receive $3,915 in funding next year, and in 2017 this will increase to $5,592. Incidentally, in case those opposite forgot their abacus, those are all increases. There's a pattern here that repeats across every school in Gilmore: increased funding. The federal government is committed to doing that.

In addition, we have guaranteed that Australian parents will have a choice in where to send their children to school. That is very important to all of us on this side—choice is one of the dictating factors. We need choice, particularly in regional and rural communities, because there isn't such a massive income ability for schools. So, measuring the socioeconomic status of the regions is critically important. I have a large number of wonderful Indigenous students—that's part of the picture. I have a large number of children with disabilities—that's part of the picture. Distance away from central metro areas is an issue. Getting up to Sydney, getting to Canberra and even getting to Wollongong are difficult, so there's a balance there for extra money for my schools.

I love my schools. They're doing an amazing job. Bucketing money in there just isn't going to be. What we need to do is to help them to use the money they are getting so that they are not having to whack it all at the end of June and say, 'Whoops, we didn't spend it all.' Get it going right. Make sure it is being monitored correctly and teachers have the opportunity to train more and to be more inspiring and grow our children's education so that in the future our children have got a STEM connection. We sponsor them into all sorts of courses so that they have leadership and resilience, they're well educated and they can represent us at all levels in all different manners and be as flexible as possible, because that's what the future will need. It's not just about money. It's about the best teachers we can get, and we have some magnificent teachers. It's about the best curriculum we can have and not loading it up with rubbish. These are the things we need to look at in education.