News Parliament


Mr GEE (Calare) (16:24): Well, wherever Nick Xenophon is this afternoon, he must be pretty chuffed and smiling, knowing that he has you people opposite so spooked about what's going on in South Australia that you've had to devote such a large part of the parliamentary day to trying to bash him up. How embarrassing is it that you could come in here and do that in our national parliament! But hypocrisy and those opposite really go hand in hand.

Those opposite have a very poor record of delivering on educational reform. Who could forget the glory days of Building the Education Revolution, for example? Remember that corker? Oh, yes. They were big on talk, but the delivery was absolutely appalling, with school halls that weren't fit for the schools that they were implemented in, overinflated prices, and building work that should have been carried out by local builders that wasn't—it was all done by out-of-town people. So, whilst they all talk a good game, in practice, the delivery always falls apart—and so it was with the Gonski reforms.

Let's have a little bit of a walk through the history pages about Gonski and how it came into being. We've had to clean up another Labor Party mess. We all know that, back in the days of Julia Gillard, when she was trying to get those states signed up, she was writing cheques that she knew she would never have to cash. She was out to save her political skin. And everyone was out there saying, 'Come in, spinner; we'll take your cheques!' But none of it was ever funded, which was very unfortunate. She was so desperate to do deals, she was stitching them up left, right and centre. She did 27 separate deals.

But the worst part of it, to my way of thinking, was that the broken system which the Gillard government implemented wasn't fair. It wasn't fair, because it valued disadvantaged students in different states differently. It didn't treat all Australians the same way. A child in one state who was suffering disadvantage was worth less to the government in terms of spending than a child suffering the same disadvantage in another state. So they, the champions of equity and equality, totally distorted and corrupted the needs based funding system. We in country Australia like it, because country schools are the biggest winners. But none of it was ever funded. It was Monopoly money. It was bouncy, rubbery cheques.

So the coalition government have had to step in, as we always do—we do it every time—to clean up the economic mess that the opposition created, with $23.5 billion in new funding over the next 10 years. It's not pie-in-the-sky stuff; the funding is kicked in straightaway and everyone's a winner, because it's properly funded and you know you're going to get your money. Over the next 10 years, recurrent funding for South Australia will total $16.7 billion and, over the next 10 years, recurrent funding per student for South Australia will grow, on average, by 4.6 per cent each year. That's real money. That's real increases in all of these schools. In my electorate, it's funding increases for every school in our electorate. Needs based funding is important. It's something that we can all get behind, and I support it. But I also support having it fully funded—not just writing cheques that a government knows it will never have to cash.

The great thing about these new reforms is they're backed by David Gonski himself. People call it Gonski 2.0. I call it 'the real Gonski', because it's real money and real funding. And it's going to flow through to all of our students, particularly in country Australia. We've got some of the most disadvantaged schools in the nation in our rural seats. Over the next decade, there's going to be an estimated $58.5 billion in Commonwealth recurrent funding for regional, rural and remote schools. Of this, an estimated $5.8 billion is provided through the location loading over this period. So you're looking at 750,000 country students benefiting from this—and it's real money and it's money that's locked in.

And it's not just rural schools; so many other schools right around Australia are benefiting from these funding reforms. For example, over the next 10 years, Commonwealth recurrent funding per student for New South Wales will grow, on average, by 4.1 per cent every year. The funding increases are real. If you look at some of the schools in my electorate you see, for example, that Canobolas Rural Technology High School is getting a funding increase over the next decade of over 50 per cent—an increase of over 50 per cent for a school that does marvellous work. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Irons ): The time allotted for this discussion has now concluded.