Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Minister, would you update the House on the rollout of the government's schools reform program? Moreover, what barriers exist to these reforms and what would be their impact?
I thank the member for Reid for his question. The fact is that this government has doubled investment in school education. It has upgraded facilities in schools all across Australia. It has provided a greater range of information for parents and the school community than ever before. This government has put education smack centre in the agenda that we have to make sure that every single student in Australia, regardless of where they live and regardless of how much money their parents earn, gets a great education.
We have introduced Australia's first national curriculum. We now have a national curriculum in English, maths, science and history. We have updated the My School website. There is more information on school finances and more information on student progress. We have invested $2.5 billion over 10 years so that every high school student in Australia gets access to a trade trading centre. Already, funding is benefiting more than 900 schools.
At the Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College in Burwood, money has been very well invested. I am asked about the barriers to this reform agenda, and the fact is that every single initiative of this government on education is met by a barrage of negativity from those opposite. It does not matter whether we talk about installing half a million computers in high schools—a program that will see over 780,000 computers delivered to Australian schools throughout this whole program—the opposition wants to cut this program.
The Leader of the Opposition last night again confirmed at the Sydney Institute that this program is up for the cut. Australian families must be wondering why the Leader of the Opposition does not want their children to have computers in schools, including the 15 schools in his own electorate, which I am sure have got those computers.
We have commissioned a review into school funding arrangements across Australia for the first time since 1973 and we have record investments in national partnerships across the states and territories, totalling some $2.5 billion. What are they about? They are about addressing disadvantage, improving teacher quality, and looking at literacy and numeracy—the basic building blocks that all our kids need to get the best out of their education. Again, these are the very things that the Leader of the Opposition wants to cut. Cuts to literacy and numeracy programs, cuts to breakfast programs, cuts to homework centres, cuts to teachers' salaries, and cuts to programs targeting Indigenous kids and kids from poor communities. This is the kind of agenda on education that the Leader of the Opposition is offering for us.
I have been very pleased that the government has been able to deliver new funding for students with disabilities—something we recognise is of huge concern to parents right around Australia. We are expanding the chaplaincy student welfare worker program and providing specific focus on Indigenous students. When Labor members and other members in the House go to schools for speech days and end-of-year events, they will be very proud, because they will see the biggest school modernisation program that has ever taken place. They will be able to talk to the school community about the record levels of investment provided by this government.
I wonder very much whether those opposite will actually have the honesty to say, 'We're against all of this.' We see the future on this side of the House as one of enabling Australian parents and their kids to get the best education they can and the best opportunities they can by providing the investment that we have over this period of time and making sure that every school is a great school and is a great— (Time expired)