House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Schools 2013

I call on the Victorian Liberal government to sign up to Labor's National Plan for School Improvement. In this year's federal budget, Labor delivered necessary reform to our education funding system. Labor has also delivered the National Disability Insurance Scheme through DisabilityCare Australia—a reform that will go down in history as one of the most notable reforms on record, bringing equality of care to people with a disability, regardless of how they acquired that disability. It is good that Labor's historic DisabilityCare policy has not been opposed by the Liberal Party.

I call on the Victorian Liberal government to sign up to Labor's National Plan for School Improvement. In this year's federal budget, Labor delivered necessary reform to our education funding system. Labor has also delivered the National Disability Insurance Scheme through DisabilityCare Australia—a reform that will go down in history as one of the most notable reforms on record, bringing equality of care to people with a disability, regardless of how they acquired that disability. It is good that Labor's historic DisabilityCare policy has not been opposed by the Liberal Party.

The same cannot be said for education reform. Australia's most comprehensive review of school education in 40 years, the Gonski review, found that the current funding system established by the previous Liberal government needs urgent repair. Internationally, we have fallen from second to seventh in reading, and from fifth to 13th in mathematics. It is time to act. To fix this problem, we need to fund schools according to student need. This is achieved by providing a base payment for every student and allocating more resources for students who need extra support. Governments acting in good faith regardless of their political persuasion should strive to find a solution. This federal government has acted accordingly: we understand that getting the funding model right will ensure that no child is left behind.

Our record on education speaks for itself. Over $100 million has been invested in schools in my electorate alone under the Building the Education Revolution, and the $19 million federally funded trade training centre located next to Frankston Chisholm TAFE, which is currently under construction, will support students to learn a trade—another policy opposed by the Liberals.

The Victorian Liberal government has put political interests ahead of the needs of students and has refused to sign up to receive the additional money to support Victorian students. This is a disgrace. It stands in sharp contrast to the position taken by New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell who was the first to sign up to support the educational needs of New South Wales students. This is how the New South Wales Premier described the Better Schools reforms in April this year:

…it provides additional resources, fairer distribution, to deliver higher standards and better outcomes in schools across New South Wales.

Last Friday, I spoke to parents at Rowellyn Park Primary School in Carrum Downs. There was strong support for the Better Schools funding reforms, with parents bewildered by the Victorian Liberal government's refusal to accept more money to improve student education. If Victoria does not sign up to the funding reforms, government schools would lose $1.9 million on average per school, while non-government schools would lose $1.7 million on average per school. It is up to the Victorian Liberals to decide whether they want to be the continuing puppet of the Leader of the Opposition.