Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014; Second Reading
Yes, we are the nation that has the highest attainment by women in education, and I am proud of that. But too many people are missing out. The gap between those that are achieving and those that are not is about three years. We can do better than that and we will.
Labor's plan to lift the education performance of Australia's youth by investing in schools and teachers is contrasted by those opposite, who would reduce school funding from $16.2 billion over the next six years. Investment into our schools is the real hope, the real reward and the real opportunity, not the reductions and the cuts that will be offered by those opposite. How offensive for the opposition education spokesperson, the member for Sturt, and the member for Paterson to visit schools in the Hunter region, in particular Irrawang High School in Raymond Terrace. It is an area I worked in so I know it very well. They claimed that there is no need for additional school funding, with the member for Paterson suggesting that the reforms are a 'con-ski'—rubbish.
In a letter to the editor in the Newcastle Herald a former pupil at the school criticised the pair for visiting stating:
Such schools in Hunter region electorates are in dire need of this funding as students past and present, teachers, parents and the community have all attested to and have all advocated for. Having an education background, I know the significance and dire need for this additional funding.
When discussing education policy with the Prime Minister over the years, my support for areas I was not happy with was always conditional on needs based funding. To see the partnership program, to know that schools I had been principal of will finally get that extra support they needed meant I was absolutely willing to have those discussions and walk out with full support.
Our Labor budget also sets in place $1 billion for our plan for Australian jobs, driving innovation within our manufacturing sector and delivering an industry participation plan for investment projects worth over $500 million. We also made this an industry partnership with innovation precincts, joining together industry and researchers to drive innovation for further success domestically and internationally.
Industry and researchers in Newcastle are in the process of preparing a bid to become an energy innovation precinct. With our well established local business and industry and our world-class research capacity in clean energy with the CSIRO Energy Centre, Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources and the University of Newcastle, there is great potential for Newcastle and the nation to benefit from Newcastle becoming an industry-led energy industry innovation precinct. It has been interesting to hear Geelong people talking about the Newcastle example. Yes, we were a one-industry town many years ago but we no longer face that dilemma.
I am very proud to be supporting this budget. Labor budgets do build for our future and ensure a stable economy while supporting jobs. It is a combination of DisabilityCare Australia, our investment package for better schools, our plan for Australian jobs and our National Broadband Network—the largest infrastructure project in our nation's history—that prepare our nation for the opportunities and challenges of the future. Only a Labor government can achieve this. I am proud of the final budget being handed down in my term in parliament.