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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 3844


Senator MASON (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Senator Carr. Given that the Rudd Labor government’s own guidelines for the Building the Education Revolution program state that schools ‘planned for closure will not receive funding’, why is the Rudd Labor government not abiding by its own guidelines for the program’s implementation?


Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —I indicated throughout last week that the program guidelines for Building the Education Revolution provide, in the case of schools that are receiving money—and those arrangements are benefiting a very large number of students and teachers in a very large number of schools right across Australia—where it has clearly been demonstrated that a school is amalgamating, the continuing school of course receives the benefit of that money. I have advised that there has yet to be demonstrated a case where that has not occurred. All of the cases that have been brought to public attention to date have in fact been demonstrated to have been consistent with the guidelines. Senator Mason, if you are now able to tell me that there is an entity that is not abiding by the guidelines, which I presume will be your next question in that very sneaky way in which you obviously seek to creep up on us, I will await further developments.


Senator MASON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the minister aware that, under the Glenorchy project in Tasmania, the Roseneath and Claremont primary schools will close? Why has $475,000 been allocated to those schools, contrary to the government’s own guidelines?


Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —The Roseneath Primary School matter—once again we have this very covert way in which you have presented this—was covered by the Australian newspaper, the newspaper of choice for the outsourced worker, the Liberal Party, on 22 June. It claimed that BER funding was being used to pressure the Tasmanian schools community to rush to mergers and closures. I remind the Senate that the Commonwealth has no influence over the merger of schools. The issue of school mergers is one for the state and territory governments. In regard to this particular BER application, Roseneath Primary School is scheduled to merge with Abbotsford Primary School. This is occurring in accordance with the BER guidelines, which state:

Where two or more schools have a planned amalgamation over the next three years into either a new school site or an expansion of one of the existing schools, then the indicative funding allocation for the schools to be merged may be combined to be used for capital or refurbishment in the new school. (Time expired)


Senator MASON —Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. Why did the Tasmanian state government receive ‘specific approval’ from the Commonwealth to divert BER funds for doomed existing schools into not just ‘amalgamating schools’ but also ‘new’ schools, as reported in the Australian today?


Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —Once again I would urge Senator Mason to protect his own reputation here by not relying on reports that he reads in the Australian, because on each and every occasion to date it has been demonstrated that those reports have not been accurate in their presentation. Perhaps the Australian should not rely upon sources within the Liberal Party, as we have seen with certain fake emails of late. Perhaps that is the type of circumstance that is developing. The article in the Australian claimed that certain moneys were being spent in a particular way, but according to the BER application Claremont Primary School is scheduled to merge with the Mount Faulkner Primary School, and this is taking place in accordance with the BER guidelines, which state:

Where two or more schools have a planned amalgamation over the next three years into either a new school site or an expansion of one of the existing schools, then the indicative funding allocation for the schools to be merged may be combined to be used for capital or refurbishment in the new school. (Time expired)