MPI - Schools
Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (15:45): I rise to speak on this matter of public importance, because the government regards education funding as very important. Today it is concerning, as the Prime Minister said, when we do see—
Ms Ryan interjecting—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Lalor will remove herself under 94(a). She is out of her place and she is out of order.
The member for Lalor then left the chamber.
Mr HAWKE: This is an example of exactly the kind of poor behaviour that Australians are turning against—this sort of sham protesting, faux outrage. They are not here for an intelligent, sensible debate, but are instead holding up shameless props—which do not say anything, mind you, because if you listen to this debate carefully and you follow what is going on, if you listened to the Prime Minister today— (Quorum formed) Of course, it is good to have all my friends and colleagues here to talk about the importance of education spending, because this is a government that is spending record amounts of funding on education in Australia today. And it is to the eternal shame of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that she storms out of here in a hissy fit because she is not allowed to use props in relation to a debate. They are the rules of this chamber, and the rules of this chamber apply to all members equally because we are here to debate intelligent points.
When you consider that this government is spending record amounts of money in education—every year, every Australian government has increased education funding in Australia. And it is, of course, a fact today that we are still seeing results in international standards and international terms in important subjects like maths and reading and writing that are not living up to the amounts of money that the government is spending. If you listen to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.
Mr Burke: Mr Deputy Speaker, the bells are still ringing outside, as though the quorum is still on. We have a member here on his feet as though the parliament is happening.
Mr Hawke interjecting—
Mr Burke: No, I am not blaming you. I am just referring to the chaos that is going on in this building at the moment.
Government members interjecting—
Mr Burke: Mr Deputy Speaker, a point of order. You have a number of members there who are interjecting out of their seats. I ask you to take the same action with them as you took with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. No. It is highly disorderly under House of RepresentativesPractice. You know who they were. The member for Goldstein was one of them. They just interjected out of their seats, which is highly disorderly. Under standing orders they must be kicked out, and you have to have the same level of responsibility that you took against the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That decision is up to the person in the chair. That is me. Is there anything else on the point of order?
Mr Burke: I will wait to hear how you rule on it, but it is highly disorderly. Practice is stronger on very few issues than on members interjecting out of their seats, and that member and a number of his colleagues were not only interjecting out of their seats, but were interjecting while they were standing along there like some football mob. They were just shouting out and treating the parliament no differently from the behaviour we were complaining about from people in the public gallery. You will set the standards of this House, Deputy Speaker. You will set the standards on how you rule on this issue and whether the same rules you put on the Deputy Leader of the Opposition apply to your colleagues on that side.
Honourable members interjecting—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (15:51): Order! Order! Order! The member for Mitchell will resume his seat. I will make a statement. During the MPI, members will be aware, I have shown a great degree of leniency over the last time that I have been in the chair with things that could be considered disorderly. I did warn about the use of props and, as to why the bells were still ringing after the end of the quorum, I am not sure. I now call the member for Mitchell on a point of order.
Mr Hawke: To the point of order of the Manager of Opposition Business: he was not present in the chamber, did not see the events and, if he was present in the chamber, he would understand what this was about. The Deputy Speaker correctly warned members opposite that the use of props was not allowed in the chamber. It is a longstanding practice of this chamber. You correctly advised them that if—and you further warned them that—
Opposition members interjecting—
Mr Hawke: I am speaking to the point of order; I am allowed to do so. You further warned them that, if they again used props in this House, they would leave the chamber. We were here. This was the proper functioning of the chair of the House—absolutely proper functioning—and, further, you were lenient on the deputy leader of the opposition when she reflected on the chair as she voluntarily left the chamber. She was not removed from the chamber; she voluntarily left.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Mitchell—
Mr Hawke: You absolutely acted correctly.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.
Mr Burke: I will just refer to a completely different point of order: I raised the issue. I came in here to raise the issue about the bells ringing outside. When I was on my feet, I raised a second point of order about the highly disorderly conduct of those opposite and I asked for your ruling on whether they would be ejected.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: My ruling is they will not be ejected.
Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (15:59): Thank you, Mr Speaker. This was a heated matter. In leaving the chamber, the member for Sydney directly reflected on the chair in an unacceptable way, challenging the whole authority of the chair and I would ask her to withdraw that. It goes to the confidence of the Second Deputy Speaker system. It was maybe said in anger.
Ms Macklin: We're trying to find a compromise.
The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga is not helping.
Mr HAWKE: It would be appropriate if that was withdrawn, because the Speaker should be honoured at all times.
Ms Plibersek: Just to assist you and to move business along, as you have attempted to do, I am happy to withdraw.
The SPEAKER: I thank the member for Sydney and I call the member for Mitchell in continuation, if he wishes to continue.
Mr HAWKE: I will resume talking about the debate on education, because these are the debates that the Australian public want us to be talking about—important matters such as education funding in Australia. I again reiterate my central point that, in this debate, the Australian government—the Turnbull coalition government that has been elected to govern Australia—is continuing the trend of Commonwealth governments in this country and state governments from 1987 and 1988 to this year, to increase Commonwealth and state funding for education. During that period we have seen that Commonwealth and state spending since 1987-88 to 2011-12 has actually increased by 100 per cent. When you total state and Commonwealth funding in Australia spent on education just in the last 25 or 30 years, it has increased 100 per cent. So we are spending a record amount of money on education.
So, of course, it is a valuable question to ask why we are facing a situation where we are seeing poorer results in international rankings. Australia has slipped up to 14 places compared to other countries. That is why this government has specific responses to the problems that we are seeing—not just in funding but in other matters in education that require key attention. That is what the experts are saying. They are talking about things like teacher quality; they are talking about effective classrooms; and they are talking about improving STEM. You will see in the policies that the Australian government is bringing forward that they are built on a strong evidence base, ensuring that we have directed strategies that will improve learning outcomes for all Australian students regardless of their school and background.
While funding is absolutely important and central, it is important to remember that, when you have a government in chaos, like the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments, who run around negotiating with states money that they do not have—that they have to borrow, that they have no intention of living up to—that it is up to the next government that is elected to office to come forward and realistically deal with the funding mess that was left to us by a Labor government that promised the world without any intention of ever actually funding those increases in education.
Our goals for future reform include boosting literacy, numeracy and STEM performance—and the Prime Minister today spoke powerfully in question time about the need to boost literacy, numeracy and STEM. Sometimes members opposite scoff at these things, but these are core and central to the problems that we are facing in education. Our goals include improving the quality of teaching and school leadership; preparing our students for a globalised world; and focusing on what is most important within the education system.
The Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes plan that the government outlined earlier this year has more than a dozen initiatives: a back to basics focus on literacy and numeracy—and, again, we do not apologise for focusing on literacy and numeracy in our education system, as it is indeed central to this government's philosophy; more qualified teachers in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects; ensuring students complete a maths or science subject before they graduate; and setting minimum literacy and numeracy standards for year 12s. Through the Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes policy, I and the government know that the answer will be in highly skilled maths and science teachers implementing teaching strategies that have been proven to work.
We are often criticised by the party opposite for not doing things in STEM. But in December 2015—not this year but over a year ago—we announced $64.6 million under the education and training portfolio as part of a national innovation and science agenda. This included expansion of the University of Adelaide's CSER digital technologies teacher program, with $6.9 million over four years to expand their unique online learning program. We have seen $8 million over four years to provide disadvantaged areas with access to specialist ICT teachers—and this was announced on 21 January this year; $4 million over two years for a pool of digital literacy school grants, expected to fund over 100 projects; and STEM partnerships with schools all around the country.
It does not stack up that all we need to do in our education system is simply spend more money. We must look at what we are doing. We must look at the quality of what we are doing. It is this government that will focus on greater quality outcomes, improving literacy and numeracy in our education system and making sure that the money that we do spend is wisely spent on the programs to lift education results.