House debates

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Questions without Notice

Productivity

2:53 pm

Photo of David BradburyDavid Bradbury (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline to the House the importance of investing in education and skills to lift productivity and of any threats to this productivity growth?

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Everybody has had an opportunity to get it out of their system. I remind people that, even if I gave a warning 45 minutes ago, it is still a warning and that I will definitely act on that warning. This only applies to one individual. To the collective: for once in your lives just think of what people from outside think of you.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

That is to everybody. As I did not hear the rehearsal by the member for Lindsay of his question, which he did in a good manner, I ask him to repeat the question so I am clear on what the question is.

Photo of David BradburyDavid Bradbury (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline to the House the importance of investing in education and skills to lift productivity and of any threats to this productivity growth?

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lindsay for his question. I am glad he had an opportunity to repeat it after it was so interrupted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who of course has been revealed this week as a threat to national security, and the Leader of the Opposition, who in the past has been a threat to the personal security of a member in this House.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The Deputy Prime Minister will get to her answer.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Going to the question of the member for Lindsay on productivity: given the level of disinterest of the opposition on economics, I suspect they will not listen.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Prime Minister will withdraw—will resume her seat.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You were right the first time: the Deputy Prime Minister should withdraw. We ask her to withdraw the statement about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, which is quite outrageous and we take deep offence at.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I may be the only person in this place who does not understand the intent of the remarks. On that basis I was willing to let it ride. I am of that position. I ask that everybody, including those at the dispatch box, take a bit of care with their remarks.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

If it assists the House, I withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the Deputy Prime Minister.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The question was about the productivity agenda of this government, which is obviously something that the opposition are not interested in, because their leader is bored by economics—that is a matter that is on the public record; it was raised by the former Treasurer. This government has been investing in productivity. In particular it has invested in a national system of paid parental leave, an increase in the child care tax rebate to 50 per cent, outcomes from early childhood programs equivalent to best practice in other countries, a year 12 attainment rate of 90 per cent by 2015, 40 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor degree being attained by 2025, and halving the proportion of 20- to 64-year-olds without a certificate III qualification.

We have had the benefits of these national goals, which we are working towards and delivering on, modelled by Econtech. That modelling shows that over the next 15 years this would benefit our economy by up to $60 billion and from 2010 to 2040 by $108 billion. This would see more than half a million jobs added to the Australian economy every year.

I was asked about this productivity agenda and about threats to this productivity agenda. Of course, the threats to this productivity agenda are clear. They are clear from the cutbacks announced by the Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Treasurer and the shadow finance minister in the game of ‘pass the budget-reply parcel’. These cuts include preventing 120,000 students getting computers. There is a theme to the opposition’s cutbacks. They are against the NBN, they are against kids getting computers in schools and they are against e-health. We are the party of the future that is preparing the nation for the future; they are the party of the past. We are the party of the National Broadband Network, computers in schools and e-health; they are the party of the Olivetti manual typewriter. That is where they want to take the nation.

As well, they want to cut our vital investments in teacher quality, investments which are enabling the best teachers to be paid more to go to the schools that need them the most. They want to cut our trades training centre programs. They want to risk 90,000 people in training through their cuts to the Productivity Places program, including 18,000 apprentices currently in training.

When we look at all this we know that they are a risk. We know too that they are a risk to our school modernisation program, to Building the Education Revolution. The problem here of course is that they are being phoney. They are not being honest about the proposed cutbacks to schools. The Master Builders Association has indicated publicly that the investment in school infrastructure is supporting 31,000 businesses around the country. They have certainly said that without this activity in building and construction we would have seen job losses as high as 35,000.

The Leader of the Opposition went to the Master Builders Association last night and spoke. But he did not utter a word about his plans to cost that industry 35,000 jobs through the threats that he is posing to economic stimulus. Instead, he went and said about the Labor Party:

They don’t like business.

Who is it that is supporting business: this side of the House that wants to keep the doors of businesses open, or that side of the House that wants to cut economic stimulus and close businesses down; this side of the House that wants to make sure businesses have the skills, apprentices and tradespeople that they need, or that side of the House that wants to cut the vital investment into Productivity Places and trades training centre programs; this side of the House that wants to provide the National Broadband Network, the infrastructure of the future, or that side of the House that wants to cut it? This means of course that the Leader of the Opposition is a huge risk to the Australian economy and to the prosperity that supports Australian families.