Senate debates

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017; Second Reading

12:13 pm

Photo of Derryn HinchDerryn Hinch (Victoria, Derryn Hinch's Justice Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Australian Education Amendment Bill. Around this time last year, before the federal election, I travelled 11,250 kilometres around country Victoria and New South Wales, and not once was the word 'Gonski' mentioned in that time. Of course, in recent weeks here that is all we have heard and in the past few hours that is all we have heard. I do not intend to speak very long; I just want to say that I will be endorsing, supporting and voting for this bill. When I first heard of the Gonski amendments, I had some doubts—and I think they were legitimate ones—especially relating to Labor's scare campaign about $22 billion; they turned me off with that. In the election campaign, I was talking about justice issues. As a senator, I am now forced to vote on education and other issues which were not part of my party platform and not what people put me here for; they put me here to do such things as a passport ban for paedophiles. But I am in this position and I may be one of those who ends up swinging this vote one way or the other. Frankly, the $22 billion Labor scare campaign was a lie. I do not like either side when you lie to me. I watched those TV commercials and talked to various people on the opposition bench. It was like me coming in here today and making a promise that, in 2045, I will give $60 billion to gambling casinos—because I am in favour of gambling—and then a new government comes in and decides they will cut $50 billion of that $60 billion and will not give it. So I then run a TV campaign saying the government are bastards; they have cut $50 billion from James Packer's coffers—$50 billion that was not there in the first place.

Now, I have said I will support this. I have had meetings with many interested parties. I sat down with two very inspiring mothers from the Broken Bay diocese to listen to their concerns about the SES and the discrepancies in it, and I have had assurances that these things will be looked at. Those women came all the way here and paid their own hotel bills because they are concerned about their kids. I am pleased to announce that I am going to support the Gonski bill, with the changes that I and others from the crossbench have actively advocated. I am proud to see that the changes will come into effect more quickly for those schools that so desperately need extra support and need it now. I am proud that an additional $4 billion or so will be invested in the Gonski program.

I am also pleased that we will be holding the state and territory governments to account to make sure that they uphold their end of the bargain in the years going ahead. I am pleased that the 10-year plan will be pushed back to six or seven years—six years, I think. I am also very pleased to acknowledge the Greens' idea, which is to have an independent body to provide a very much needed layer of transparency. I know the Greens have had to fight amongst themselves, but for some of these changes they have advocated very strongly indeed. So, I will be supporting this bill. I think we will get some extra money for Victorian schools. The money will come faster than was planned, better than was planned. It is a needs based scheme. And before I sit down, to steal from Neil Armstrong's apocryphal story about what he really said when he walked on the moon: good luck, Mr Gonski!


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