Thursday, 21 February 2019
Matters of Public Importance
Yes, we did. The shadow minister for early childhood is interjecting, but yesterday she spoke for 10 minutes on this subject matter and didn't refer at all to what their policies will do to help Indigenous attendance, low-socioeconomic attendance and rural and remote attendance. There was not one word, and that is where the gap is. As the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, who is at the table, has stated, it's incredibly important that you don't just invest the money but that you invest in the right ways to get the right outcomes that will benefit every Australian child, and that is what this government is doing. I say to those opposite: look at our policies closely because you could learn a lot from the approach that we're taking. That is something that you might want to contemplate and think about in your next three years of opposition, because it is absolutely important that, no matter where you come from or where you live, you get the opportunities that are required to give you a decent education. That is what we are doing.
What are we doing with regard to reform? We're implementing the school reforms that were put forward by David Gonski. We're doing that in collaboration and cooperation with every single state and territory government. Every single state and territory government signed up to the school reform agenda that we took to the Education Council last year. It's worth reminding people that every single state and territory signed up to that national reform agenda, and that includes the Labor government in Western Australia, the Labor government in Victoria, the Labor government in Queensland and the Labor governments in the ACT and in the Northern Territory. So we have bipartisan agreement to the national school reform agenda that we put on the table. I thank all those state and territory education ministers for understanding the importance of school reform and backing the proposals that were put forward by David Gonski.
We on this side also understand how important it is to provide the support that our teachers need, and I see that that is something the shadow minister has taken on board. People may or may not remember, but the government put the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group in place to consult and come up with recommendations to help improve the support we are providing to our teachers. The government invested $16.9 million to back the work of this group to ensure quality assurance for teacher education courses and rigorous selection for entry to teaching degrees, and to ensure that teachers are in the top 30 per cent when it comes to literacy and numeracy when they graduate. These are very, very important reforms for a very, very important component of our education system, because we all know that, when it comes to encouraging students to learn and when it comes to providing the support that students need to learn, teachers are absolutely vital. As a matter of fact, they are second only to the influence that parents and guardians can have on a child's education.
The facts are absolutely clear. There has been record funding for child care, record funding for early childhood learning, record funding for government schools, record funding for Catholic schools, record funding for independent schools and record funding for the higher education sector. All this has been done without us having to tax the Australian people an additional $200 billion, as those opposite are going to do, including retired teachers.