Question to Julia Gillard about Baulkham Hills North Public School


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (2.38 pm)—My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Education and Minister for Social Inclusion. I refer the minister to the Baulkham Hills North Public School, in my electorate, which was awarded $2.45 million— Government members interjecting—


Mr HAWKE—You can explain it to me later, Albo.


The SPEAKER—The Leader of the House will come to order!


Mr HAWKE—for a new hall under the government’s Building the Education Revolution program. Minister, why is it, after months of discussions to extend the existing hall, this school is being forced to accept a new hall, which only provides an extra 30 square metres of floor space? This would seat, at most, an extra 50 students. Does the minister accept that spending an extra $2.45 million—or about $81,500 per square metre, to seat 200 out of 650 students—is value for money?


Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Deputy Prime Minister)—I thank the member for Mitchell for his question. I thank him for so clearly going through my portfolio titles. If he wants a summary, we of course stand for fairness and decency in education and at work. You stand for neither—neither fairness nor decency. That was made very clear by the Leader of the Opposition on the weekend, and it is made clear every day by your shadow minister through his absence of policies.


Mr Pyne—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister was asked a very clear question about value for money and I would ask you to draw her to the question.


The SPEAKER—The Deputy Prime Minister is responding to the question. Perhaps a little less debate would be helpful. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.


Ms GILLARD—The member for Mitchell raises with me a Building the Education Revolution project in his electorate. There are 41 schools in his electorate. They have been awarded 93 projects at a cost of just over $81 million. I think it is to be regretted that he opposes each and every one of those projects in each and every one of his 41 schools. He has raised with me the details of an individual project. Obviously I would need to check the assertions in his question—I have found out, by dint of long experience, that most of the questions raised by the opposition do not stand up to any scrutiny when the claims are held up to the light. But I will look at the assertion that the member for Mitchell has made and will come back to him about the matter. I trust that, in the same spirit, he will go back to each of his 41 schools and explain to them that he is opposed to expenditure in those schools, he is opposed to the new projects, he is opposed to assistance to schools in 9,500 schools around the nation and he is opposed to the local jobs that it will support.


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop—On a number of occasions, the Deputy Prime Minister has promised to come back to the House. I would ask that she come back before the end of question time, for once.