Monday, 24 June 2013
Questions without Notice
Australian Education Bill 2013
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Conroy. I refer the minister to the fact that the Prime Minister has described the Gonski reforms as 'the biggest change to school education in 40 years'. I also refer the minister to the fact that only two hours and 45 minutes has been allocated to debate the Australian Education Bill 2013 and the Australian Education (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013, in aggregate. Isn't the government's refusal to allow proper parliamentary debate on what it alleges to be the greatest change to school education in 40 years indicative of the shallowness of the government's rhetoric and its desire to avoid genuine scrutiny of its own legislation?
Those opposite are again demonstrating their contempt for the intelligence of the Australian public. They stand up here and say they are opposed to it—they are not going to introduce it—and then they demand the right to filibuster their way through until parliament rises so that the government cannot pass it.
Those opposite have no interest in the education of the children of our nation. They have no interest in improving our schools and lifting the results for all students. They have no interest, because only a Labor government believes in a stronger, smarter and fairer Australia.
The 2013-14 budget delivers almost $10 billion, confirming the Prime Minister's offer to implement a new national plan for better schools, regardless of sector or state. Those opposite did everything they could, behind the scenes—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Those opposite did everything they could to spike Premier O'Farrell's agreeing to ensure that the students of New South Wales got the best possible education. They put enormous pressure on Premier O'Farrell not to sign. Once again, they are more interested in short-term politics than they are the welfare and the needs of school students in New South Wales.
So when they stand up in this chamber and cry crocodile tears that they do not have a whole week or a whole month to oppose and filibuster their way through a debate— (Time expired)
I have a supplementary question. In the case of the Australian Education Bill 2013, the government has set aside 165 minutes to debate the expenditure of $16.2 billion. Does the minister seriously believe that giving the Senate one minute of debate for every $100 million the government plans to spend is anything but a complete insult to Australian taxpayers?
What is an insult to Australian taxpayers is the fact that the best those opposite can come up with is getting out a calculator, plugging in a few numbers, and working out how many lines there are. That is the best the alternative government have to offer when it comes to the most significant reforms for our children's education in our country's history.
How many full-stops were there? Have you counted the full-stops yet? That will be your only contribution. If we gave you one hour or one year to debate the bill, Senator Mason, you would be adding up the number of full-stops. That is it. You are opposed to this bill. You are opposed to Australian children getting the best possible education. And those opposite will continue to cry poor all the way through question time, when they are not interested in the merit or the substance of these bills. They simply— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the government cannot say where the extra $16.2 billion is coming from and cannot explain how spending that $16.2 billion will drastically improve literacy and numeracy, and cannot reassure thousands of schools that they will not be worse off under its so-called reforms, is it true that the only thing left in the government's education revolution is the guillotine?
(—) (): Mr President, I fundamentally reject the premise of his question. But let me give you a very simple statistic. It took two full days just to process and go through the amendments to the EPBC—two full days. Those opposite engage in a filibuster on every bill, every piece of legislation, that they can, just so they can come in and complain that we have to pass a time management motion—just because you forgot to pass one—to absolutely make sure that Australian children get the best possible education. That is because those opposite have got nothing positive to contribute—nothing positive about reforming the economy, nothing positive about reform in education. (Time expired)