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Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Page: 80

Senator XENOPHON (9:51 PM) —I indicate my support for this amendment for these reasons: firstly, I do not doubt what Senator Carr says, but this amendment makes it absolutely clear that it gives the government, through the Minister for Education, the power to provide additional funding if need be. It does not require it; it does not mandate it; but it actually provides for additional funding to be given in the sorts of circumstances that Senator Macdonald articulated earlier this evening. I see no harm in that. I note Senator Milne’s concerns that it could well be seen as discriminating between government and non-government schools, but I would have thought that, if this is flagged as an issue, if there is power to do so in the way that it has been structured, that is a good thing because it gives that degree of flexibility to the minister. It acknowledges this as an issue and, in the context of Senator Milne’s concern, I think it sets a good precedent that, in those circumstances, in exceptional cases, the minister has the flexibility to deal with those students from remote communities if it is necessary. I think Senator Carr is right but I also think that the opposition is right on this. That is why I see no harm in this amendment. I see it as being beneficial, and I support it.