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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 100

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) (8:14 PM) —I confess that Senator Allison has me confused. First of all, she threatens that if I freely express my views in here the debate will take a very long time. I can assure her that that is a very serious threat—having to sit here and listen at length to a variety of views with which one might not agree being repeated ad infinitum by way of punishment is a truly frightening experience. On the other hand, when the debate is about something she wants to discuss she announces that she hopes we have some arguments to put forward. I am not really sure what that means, although I deduce it means that if I do not agree with the Democrats I should shut up. So I will make this very brief.

I am surprised that the Democrats want to remove 14(d) from the legislation—that is, a commitment by the state to ensure that school performance information is made publicly available. We could go through all of these clauses and make a joke of getting rid of all of them. I do not think Senator Allison would see the humour. Neither do I think parents would see why we should not be encouraging schools and requiring them to have full and appropriate performance reporting, and to make it public so that parents can make a choice. That is what we think is vitally important. Parents are sick of their kids leaving school not having all the skills that they expect them to have, and they want more accountability from the schools. We believe that the schools should give it.