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Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Page: 67


Senator MILNE (8:20 PM) —I very well aware of that—and that is the point. That is why I am so disappointed that the government has split funding for public education from funding for private education. It is very difficult for people in a parliament to make sure that there is equity across the system. My understanding of the Constitution is that the Commonwealth has responsibility to ensure the well being of Indigenous people. I want to make sure that the states have some obligation to make up the funding to the same level that the Commonwealth is funding Indigenous students in non-government schools. Otherwise we are going to have a situation where the equity gap is widening, and that is not just. I accept the minister is telling me that we are just dealing with non-government schools and that is precisely why, as a symbolic issue, I have an amendment saying that the title should be ‘non-government schools assistance’ because that is what this bill is about. At the same time, before I am prepared to support one bill, I want to know that Indigenous students in non-government schools have some chance of access to equal levels of support.