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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 607


Mr PRICE (4:13 PM) —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Education, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on problems for schools and communities, which will be addressed by the Building the Education Revolution initiative, and any obstacles to resolving those problems?


Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Chifley for his question and acknowledge his advocacy and support of the 38 primary schools, nine combined primary-secondary schools, 18 secondary schools and one special school in his electorate, all of which will benefit from our Building the Education Revolution program, which is there to benefit every school in this country. This program, of course, is supported by the people who care about education, particularly the Australian Primary Principals Association, which said:

The education package provides much needed support for our building industry but more importantly it is a long term investment for Australia’s young children.

I table that press release. Of course, it got strong support from the Australian Special Education Principals Association, who have talked about how it is ‘a shot in the arm for special schools around the nation who have been struggling to provide quality learning environments for students with disabilities’. They go on to talk about the problems of teaching those students in temporary, fabricated, non-purpose-built classrooms that are up to 30 years old. I table that press release.

In view of this endorsement from the education community, what we know at the end of this sitting week, as parliament draws to a close, is that members of parliament on this side of the House will be able to go back to their local communities saying that they have a Nation Building and Jobs Plan. Members on that side of the House will go back saying that they have no plan. Members on this side of the House will go back to their local communities saying that they are united in their determination to work with Australians as they face this global financial crisis. Members on that side of the House will go back deeply divided, as the cracks in their position already show, with members like the member for McEwen and the member for Menzies not endorsing the foolish strategy being pursued by the Leader of the Opposition. Importantly, members on this side of the House will be able to go back to their communities saying that they are pursuing the national interest, whereas members on that side of the House will go back trying to defend their rank political interest. Members on this side of the House will go back to their local schools able to talk to them about new investments, meaning new jobs, in their local communities. It really does amaze me what members on that side of the House are going to say to those local schools.

To give you some indication of the kinds of twists and turns members on that side of the House are going to have to engage in, I have, of course, received correspondence from members on that side of the House about the circumstances of their local schools—schools they now say should not get a cent from the Building the Education Revolution program. I refer to correspondence from the member for McEwen, who said, ‘Healesville High School is in desperate need of better facilities,’ and I table that correspondence. What is she going to say? I am the minister with a program that you voted against that could assist Healesville High—

Opposition members interjecting—


Ms GILLARD —Exactly! I have the correspondence of the member for Parkes, who wrote to me about the circumstances of Gulgong High School. He wrote:

I am writing on behalf of Gulgong High School, who are in great need of further capital and maintenance works to school facilities.

I table that correspondence. What is he going to say to that local school? On the same day he wrote to me again, saying that he was writing on behalf of Moree Secondary College Student Representative Council, who had great concerns over the terrible state of a number of student facilities at the college’s Carol Avenue campus. I table that correspondence. What is he going to say to that local community?

Then I refer to correspondence I received from the member for La Trobe, who raised with me the circumstances of Sassafras Primary School. He wrote:

Minister, I have very strong concerns about the need for funding for upgrades to Sassafras Primary School.

What is he going to say to that local school? I table that correspondence.

On the question of the school communities of the member for Barker, which was raised in this parliament earlier today, I table for the House the list of 104 schools in the Barker electorate that are eligible to benefit from the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program of the government, a program he is opposed to.


Dr Southcott —Where’s Milton North?


Ms GILLARD —I am coming to that. I table for the benefit of the House the list of 127 schools in his electorate that would be eligible to benefit from our national school pride program, a program he is opposed to. I table for the benefit of members in the House the list of 19 secondary schools in his electorate who would be eligible for our 21st century science and language centres program, a program he is opposed to.

Finally, for the benefit of members in the House, I table an email. I am going to apologise: it has been the sort of week where the name ‘Milton’ has been on the brain. But, yes, this is a piece of correspondence from the headmaster of the school at Millicent; undoubtedly the Leader of the Opposition would like it renamed ‘Milton’. But, because of the Rudd Labor government, this is a school eligible for our Building the Education Revolution program, and I would be interested to see what the member for Barker has to say to them when he gets home, seeing how excited they are about this program. I table this piece of correspondence. Members of the Liberal Party are opposed to building an education revolution, they are opposed to local jobs, they are acting in their rank political interest, and now they are going to have days and days back at home trying to explain that to their local community members. It is going to be an interesting sight to see.


Mr Rudd —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.