House debates

Monday, 3 June 2013

Questions without Notice


2:41 pm

Photo of Kirsten LivermoreKirsten Livermore (Capricornia, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. How will schools in Queensland benefit from the National Plan for School Improvement? Why is the plan so important for students in our schools and a smart investment in our nation's future?

2:42 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 Capricornia for that question, and I know that she has had a profound commitment to the delivery of support for education in her electorate: nearly $130 million in improving school facilities, 60 libraries, 26 multipurpose halls and 63 classrooms. The member would be familiar with the results for Queensland students, where more effort and more support are needed. I had a look at the NAPLAN results for 2012, and we can see that in year 3 reading around 17.4 per cent of students in Queensland are at or below national minimum standard. That is around 10,000 students. In international testing in year 4 reading, almost one in three students in Queensland are at or below benchmarks. The key thing here—and the Treasurer referred to it—is that, if kids are below these benchmarks, they will not get good jobs in the future and their learning will not proceed as well as it could.

Of course, our response to that is to make sure that we invest in reforms that will make a difference: individual help for students, lifting teacher quality and giving principals more say over their school. If Premier Newman would put the petty politics aside then schools in Queensland would benefit from additional investment of around $3.8 billion over the next six years. I am asked why the plan is so important. The reason why this plan is so important is that the opposite to that is that if Queensland does not sign up then over the next six years Queensland government schools will lose a total of around $3 billion and non-government schools a total of around $1.2 billion. Incidentally, that is about $2.5 million on average per school.

I notice that others outside the parliament can see how critical and important this is. I saw the release from the Australian Government Primary Principals Association. I applaud the primary principals for speaking up, because they have been very clear that Australian students deserve to have their governments act on their behalf. That is what they specifically said, but they had something to say about the opposition as well, and it was this: they rejected the views expressed by Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne that the current school-funding model is satisfactory and any changes should be postponed to a distant future.

That is 5,300 school leaders in government primary schools around Australia declaring absolutely clearly that what the opposition leader and the member for Sturt have on the table in rejecting this National Plan for School Improvement will mean less investment going to schools in Queensland, not more. At the end of the day, if we want a stronger, smarter and fairer nation, we need to support a National Plan for School Improvement. That is what we will do. The opposition will not.