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Thursday, 31 October 1996
Page: 4900

Senator JACINTA COLLINS —My question is to the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Senator Vanstone. Minister, are you aware that the Victorian government intends to close a further 113 schools—two-thirds of which are in Labor electorates—despite the fact that only one-third of the seats in Victoria are held by Labor? Given that the federal government funds education in Victoria to the tune of $854 million this financial year, will the federal government ensure that the political bias by Mr Gude is brought to account?

Senator VANSTONE —Thank you, Senator Collins, for that question. No, I was not aware that, in the distribution of any schools to be closed in Victoria, two-thirds were in Labor electorates, as you assert they are. I do not deny that they are, but I do not agree that they are either. I simply do not have that information to hand.

When you identify for yourself that apparently Labor holds only one-third of the electorates in Victoria—there may be good reason for that, of course—I gather the inference you are making, Senator, is that the Victorian government has used a Ros Kelly whiteboard. That is what you are suggesting. I do not assume for one minute that that is the case. I will make some inquiries as to the distribution of school closures in Victoria. If I have anything to add, I will come back and tell you.