House debates

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Questions without Notice


2:47 pm

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Will the minister inform the House of the investment the government has made in education to provide working people with the skills they need for the new economy?

2:48 pm

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Calwell for that question, because this government has provided more investment in education, on an unprecedented scale, than we have ever seen in this parliament. We have more than doubled the funding that we saw under the previous coalition, and every dollar is intended to make sure that every kid in the country has the skills that they need for the new economy and the opportunity to fulfil their potential and to get jobs into the future. I was pleased to know that the member herself has seen significant investment from this government in projects in her electorate—some 16 libraries under Building the Education Revolution, and a range of other investments.

These investments are all geared to making sure that kids in these schools have the skills that they need to succeed and to prosper in life, whether it is the national partnerships, where we are providing investment in teacher quality because we know that the teacher is the most important person in the classroom to help the kids; the investment in the facilities in Building the Education Revolution, because we know that they make a huge difference to the teacher and to the kids in the classroom; or the investment in computers in schools—some $2.4 billion.

I am pleased to say that we can say now that we have a delivery of over 900,000 computers for kids in years 9 to 12 right around Australia, who will have access to those computers in this school year and, importantly, will be able to work in the new digital education environment, which will be absolutely central to their job prospects for the future. Previously kids would get into the latter years of high school but in many instances they would not have access to a computer. They might have had one at home, but when it came to the learning that they needed to do, when it came to accessing the information online, on the curriculum—our national curriculum, incidentally, is the first online curriculum of its kind in the world—they did not have the tools to do it. It was this government that provided them with the tools to do it.

It is a matter of record that Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne wanted to cut money out of supporting computers for schools—

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The minister will refer to shadow ministers by their titles or their electorates.

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) Share this | | Hansard source

and the Leader of the Opposition has made his position quite clear on these matters, because he wants to cut the investment in education.

On the other hand, here we are saying that our future prospects as a nation absolutely depend on us investing in education. That is what we have done. That is what we will continue to do. Whether it is trades training centres so that kids can get the skills they need for jobs of the future, computers in schools so that they are able to work effectively in the new digital economy or making sure that everybody has access to a national curriculum and to good teaching, that is what this government is all about. We will deliver for kids in education for the 21st century. Those opposite have nothing to offer.