Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of joint press conference: Hobart: 29 August 2008: $4.3 million investment in literacy and numeracy in Tasmania; National Literacy and Numeracy Week; Productivity Places Program.

Download PDFDownload PDF

The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Social Inclusion. Deputy Prime Minister 29 August, 2008


Joint Press Conference, 930am Friday, 29 August 2008, Hobart

$4.3 million investment in literacy and numeracy in Tasmania, National Literacy and Numeracy Week, Productivity Places Program


Can I start by saying it’s obviously great to be here today at this school with the Premier of Tasmania and

Minister for Education, David Bartlett and with the local member, Julie Collins. You’ve had the opportunity to

see the wonderful teaching staff and the children of this school hard at work and obviously enjoying their

literacy and numeracy.

And, of course, next week is National Literacy and Numeracy Week. It’s a week where we celebrate the skills of

reading and writing and being able to count and do maths. But it’s also a time where we look at where we need

extra investments to make a difference, particularly for those students who are at risk of falling behind.

Now this school is one that has been piloting a program that has been making a difference here. And it’s my

pleasure to be here today with my colleagues, David and Julie, to announce that the Rudd Labor Government

will be investing $4 million in spreading this Program to 11 other schools. This program, which is entitled

Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap has already made a difference in some of the most disadvantaged

Tasmanian schools. This new investment of $4 million will enable this program, Raising the Bar and Closing

the Gap, to go to 11 other Tasmanian schools.

Page 1 of 5.


In addition, we are making a further investment of $300,000 in two pilots: one—for the Catholic education

sector on numeracy; and one—a pilot program on teacher professional development. So I’m here today to

announce a new investment into Tasmanian education of $4.3 million.

This is part of $40 million of pilot programs on literacy and numeracy, benefiting 29 schools around the

country. This is a down payment on our more than half a billion dollar plan to get the basics right in literacy

and numeracy right across Australian schooling.

It’s also my pleasure today to be here to announce that the Tasmanian Government and the Rudd Labor

Government have entered an agreement for the rollout of 458 new Productivity Places. This is the Rudd Labor

Government’s plan, to work with our state colleagues, to address the skills crisis, to put new investments into

Productivity Places, training places in areas where skills are short. Already 1030 Tasmanians have benefited

from the rollout of these places.

We’ve now reached agreement to rollout 458 new places in areas where skills are short in this state and where

people need training to make sure that they can get the opportunities in this economy and to make sure

businesses in this economy can get the skilled workers that they need.

I’ll hand over to David.


Thank you. Well, can I just say that I, of course, I welcome this extra Australian Government money coming to

our Raise the Bar and Close the Gap program. As you are all aware, that program is funded in this year’s state

Budget to the tune of $32 million, addressing literacy challenges that we have on a needs-based funding

formula. And I am very proud and pleased that the Australian Government has recognised the excellence of

that program and will enable us to extend it to more schools and therefore, more children in Tasmania who

are having challenges meeting the national benchmarks that we want them to.

I welcome the approach by the Australian Government that has recently been announced by Kevin Rudd to

focus on teacher quality, on better reporting to parents and on needs-based funding because, as you know,

these are the three things that I have been focused on here in Tasmania for the last two years. And it’s terrific

to finally have an Australian Government that wants to work with us and not just walk with a big stick, but

actually bring money to the table and resources to the table that are going to make a real difference in

Tasmanian lives.

I welcome the reforms that the Rudd Government, under Julia’s leadership, have announced. I will be

working very closely with the Deputy Prime Minister on implementing these reforms and in fact, I believe we

are already well down the track in Tasmania in their implementation. What, of course, I’ll be saying around

the ministerial table with the Deputy Prime Minister is therefore funding needs to flow in Tasmania to ensure

that these reforms really make a difference for the long term. And I welcome this fantastic $4.3 million down

payment on that extra resourcing for Tasmanian schools.


Ms Gillard, are you also here to sell those reforms and how do you think you’ll go? You’ve probably heard

some of the comments from the unions.


Page 2 of 5

Well, we’ll be selling these reforms each and every day because we believe in them. And we’ll be talking to our

state colleagues, including Premier Bartlett about their implementation. But these are reforms that no one

should fear if they care about the quality of education in every Australian school. We know that there are too

many school students who get left behind, who don’t come out of school with the skills need for the rest of

their lives. And I think every Australian believes that every Aussie kid should get a fair chance in life and a

good start.

To do that, we’ve got to lift the standard of schooling. We’re standing ready with new resources to invest in the

schools that need our assistance the most, to invest in teacher quality, and to make sure that every member of

the public—parents, members of the public who are concerned, governments at state and federal level know

exactly what is going on in schools and where extra assistance is needed.


This idea of being able to compare other schools—where in the world is that being done now that’s working? I

mean, for example, Finland’s often given as an example of a good system. They don’t compare schools. Are we

going off in the dark on our own here with this idea?


Well moves towards increased transparency have been implemented in other parts of the world. I’ve recently

had the opportunity to visit New York and I’ve talked about the model there, led by Joel Klein.

And of course you don’t pick up the model from overseas and say, ‘That’ll do for Australia.’ You’ve always got

to work out a unique Australian model that suits our conditions.

But what that program from overseas shows, in New York, is if you measure and identify where additional

assistance is required, then you can make a difference. And I think people would know just from watching TV as much as anything else—New York is a very different place to his country but it’s a city that has pockets of

enormous wealth and pockets of very great disadvantage. And in New York they have made a difference to

those pockets of very great disadvantage.


What do you say to fears that schools in low socioeconomic areas may suffer a … I suppose a stigma when it

comes to something like this?


I don’t think that you can ever resolve a problem by closing your eyes and pretending that it’s not there. You’ve

always got to be able to squarely look the truth in the face. And this isn’t about naming and shaming and it’s

not about blaming schools or blaming teachers or anyone else. It’s about saying, ‘Where do we need to make a

difference? Where are the schools that need extra assistance?’ And it’s about watching how schools succeed.

If we saw two very similar schools and one was just streaking ahead, then you’d obviously say, ‘What’s going

on in that school that makes a difference and what can other schools learn from that best practice?’ So it’s

about sharing the best and it’s about making sure that for those schools that need extra assistance, they get it.


Page 3 of 5.

Do you think Tasmania might receive more than this $4.3 million down payment as the Premier has called it?


Well, certainly I can envisage that there will be lots of—as the Prime Minister would say, ‘argy bargy’ to come

as we close out on these negotiations in December. But can I welcome the fact that Premier Bartlett has

endorsed the direction of the Rudd Labor Government. I can understand that he is very assertively going to

put the funding case for his state to make sure that Tasmania gets its fair share. That’s to be expected and no

doubt, by Tasmanians it’s going to be welcomed—and we’ll have those conversations about the funding.

But we want to make a difference here in Tasmania for the students and schools that most need it. We want to

make a difference on teacher quality right around the country as well as here in Tasmania, and we’ll look

forward to those negotiations. I know they’re going to be friendly but they’re going to be frank, and we’ll get to

an outcome in December.


Mr Bartlett’s welcome them but there does seem to be a bit of disquiet in your own backbenches in Canberra

on the education and the welfare reforms. Are you concerned that the Labor Government might seem a bit

more punitive in some areas than the Howard Government even perhaps?


Well, people come to Canberra elected as Labor Members because they’re full of ideas and full of enthusiasm.

And consequently, we expect of course that people who are elected to represent communities come to our

various meetings of the Labor Party full of things to say about what their community wants and what they

think should be done in the interests of the nation. All of those conversations will continue. But the Rudd

Labor Government has made it clear, through the Prime Minister’s address on Wednesday that we are absolutely committed to a new era of school transparency, to new investments in schools that need those

investments the most and to investments across the board in teacher quality.


How long will it be, do you think before this funding you’ve announced today shows measurable results?


Well, as I understand the research from Tasmania and the Premier may want to comment on this. The

program that we are enabling to be spread on another 11 schools has actually shown results. The Raising the

Bar, Closing the Gap program is making a difference and because it’s making a difference we obviously want

to see more students benefit from it. It is being viewed as a pilot program. We’re always researching to see

what are the best ways of making sure Australian kids end up literate and numerate and ready to face the

challenges of high school and the world beyond.


Prime Minister … just one more. Prime Minister Howard obviously led what was considered an economically

conservative government. Are we seeing the Labor Government is moving towards one that is socially

conservative in all of these areas that we’re talking about?

Page 4 of 5


I must admit in the modern age I’m never sure whether these labels have got that much meaning and often

they’re invested with a lot of baggage that people put on them. Seems to me, it’s a core Labor belief that

education is fundamental to our society, it’s fundamental to our economy. But I think the special perspective

that Labor brings is we believe education is fundamental to changing lives. And it’s a great part of the Labor

tradition to say: No matter how humble a child’s circumstances, no matter how impoverished their home, they

should be able to go to a great school and have a great education. That’s a fundamental force for social

equity—something I’ve always believed in and something I would say that’s been in the mainstream of Labor’s

tradition for as long as we’ve been a political party.

How you achieve that? You’ve always got to be thinking, you’ve always got to be developing new policies,

you’ve got to be working the best way forward and that’s what we’re doing now. And we’re determined to see

that equity achieved through a new era of transparency, new investments in the schools that need it the most

and new era of teacher quality.

Thank you very much.


Media Contact:

Non-media queries: 1300 363 079

Page 5 of 5