Monday, 24 June 2013
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
Superannuation, Australian Education Bill 2013, Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013
I rise to refute some of the wild claims made here today by those opposite. It is always a pleasure to follow Senator Mason, though he was somewhat quieter than normal! He talked about the need for education reform, and he is quite right. I know that those opposite do not support the Gonski reforms. But those of us who have joined with parents and their children at many rallies, meetings and conference know that this piece of legislation is long overdue. I will come back to that in a moment. The simple fact is that the majority in this place today voted to vote on these bills by the end of the week.
Senator Mason interjecting—
More interjections and more complaints. I have been here when in opposition. I saw how the Howard government ran the Senate. I saw them filibuster debates out and not allow proper scrutiny. They have form on this. They have a long record of abuse of the Senate when they were in government. But I do not want to go there. I want to talk about the legislation.
There are several pieces of legislation but I want to talk about the Australian Education Bill, what it means and why it is so important for it to be debated and passed this week before the parliament rises. The National Plan for Better Schools will give every child the individual help they need to reach their potential. It will lift teaching standards so that the best and brightest are in charge of our schools and classrooms. It will provide more information to parents and the community about school funding and performance. It will tackle school bullying so that every child can learn in a safe environment.
The Gonski reforms that the legislation is in part based on are so vitally important for our school children and, indeed, our future. I say to those opposite that they need to go out into the community and say why they could not do this today when we have already spent hours this morning debating a time-management motion. We had hours to do that. We also spent days listening to Senator Birmingham, who is a very excellent member of parliament, but do we have to listen to the same speech for days on one piece of legislation? The reason we had to do that was that the opposition wanted to come to this point. They wanted to say that the government was guillotining important pieces of legislation that they had been waiting to debate. But that is not true. It is all contrived so that they can come here, to this point, to make a faux argument about why they are concerned, but they are not concerned.
They opposed Gonski. I am unsure what their position is on the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) 2013—the referendum bill. I am happy for them to enlighten me. But I understand now that perhaps it will be a conscience vote on that issue. Some will support it and some will not. That is what the coalition has come to these days. They are so keen to be such small targets that they cannot even have a proper debate in their caucus anymore and come out with a position. They allow all sorts of things to be happening in the background. There are many, many important pieces of legislation here that the community wants us to progress, Gonski being one, the aged-care bills being another and the charities bill being another. These are important pieces of legislation that need to be voted on by the end of this week for the future of Australians. (Time expired)