House debates

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Questions without Notice


2:28 pm

Photo of Mike SymonMike Symon (Deakin, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. What progress has there been on the government's plan for better schools and what does this mean for schools in my state of Victoria?

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

I thank the member for Deakin for his question. I know that he, along with other Victorian members, has followed with some sense of concern the engagement between the federal government and the Victorian government. They know that they can now look across the New South Wales border, or look across the border into South Australia, and see schools that are going to benefit from our new funding and our plans for school improvement and they have worried that the children in their local schools will be left behind.

I am therefore very pleased to be able to say to the member for Deakin, and the House, that the Premier of Victoria has just written to me to outline a position on school funding. I welcome his letter and his readiness to engage in this negotiation. It is not before time but it shows that he recognises that school funding reform and school improvement cannot be ignored. The Australian Education Act, as I advised the parliament a little bit earlier in question time, is now law. It delivers an entitlement to excellent school funding that every student in Australia should be able to benefit from. I can confirm to the House that I am willing to negotiate with the Victorian Premier in good faith to deliver an outcome for Victorian schools. Of course, the terms of the arrangement will be the same as the ones we have signed with New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT. The Victorian Premier needs to show that he is making a basic commitment to doing his part in investing in Victorian schools. The offer I have made is a good one, basically a two-for-one funding deal between the federal government and the state government of Victoria.

I can confirm that the legislation we have passed provides for the empowerment of school communities and principals and the flexibility and diversity of schools and school systems, including in Victoria. I very much welcome the step forward taken by the Premier of Victoria today. I look forward to working with him in good faith to make sure that Victorian students are not left behind and that our nation is offering them a world-class education as their birthright.