Monday, 14 September 2009
Questions without Notice
Building the Education Revolution Program
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Employment, Minister for Workplace Relations, Minister for Education and Minister for Social Inclusion. I refer the minister to a document entitled Questions and answers for MPs and senatorstalking points distributed by the minister’s office in August. The document advises government backbenchers that if they are asked about problems with Building the Education Revolution they should respond that ‘state and territory education authorities and block grant authorities are responsible’. If that is the case, Deputy Prime Minister, why is the Australian government, and not any state, territory or block grant authority, acknowledged on the taxpayer funded electoral advertisements that every school must display?
I thank the member for his question. Unfortunately, in response I feel like I should be giving a grade 5 or 6 social studies or civics course. Yes, there is a national government in this country; that is true. There are state and territory governments in this country; that is true as well. There are actually local governments, but I do not want to confuse the member—I seriously do not—so let us just stick to the first two. And then there are schools in this country that are not operated by either level of government but are operated either independently or by the Catholic Church through Catholic education authorities.
It may, the Prime Minister is reminding me, possibly be in the member’s mind that this is all located in some G20 leftist conspiracy. The interconnections are not clear to me but maybe to Fox Mulder of The X Files over there they are. Maybe the truth is out there.
The way that Building the Education Revolution works, of course, is that the federal government, to support jobs during a global recession—and I know the shadow minister has not heard of that—determined it was appropriate to provide economic stimulus to the economy. We determined it was appropriate to do that in part through the biggest school modernisation program the nation has ever seen. Seventy per cent of our economic stimulus was delivered by way of productive infrastructure for the future, including modernising schools. Having made that determination, we entered into agreements with state and territory governments, independent schools authorities and the Catholic schools authorities. We have worked with them on the delivery of this program. It is as simple as that. Whether or not the shadow minister is capable of understanding it is quite another question.