Question to Julia Gillard about Annangrove Public School


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (2.56 pm)—My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Minister for Education and the Minister for—ahem—Social Inclusion.


Honourable members interjecting—


Mr HAWKE—Well, I didn’t give her that title!


The SPEAKER—Order! The member will get to his question.


Mr HAWKE—I refer the minister to the fact that, before the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program was announced in February, schools in New South Wales were charged $285,000 to construct a seven-core modular library. Minister, considering the Annangrove Public School in my electorate is now being charged $727,000 for the same library under the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program and already has a functioning library, and that the P&C wanted a hall built instead, does the minister maintain that this represents value for money?


Opposition members interjecting—


The SPEAKER—Order! The question has been put, and then we have interjections on blank air, even before the question has started to be responded to. Members on my left will remain quiet.


Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion)—I thank the member for Mitchell for his question. I think it is a bit unfortunate that he cannot say the words ‘social inclusion’ without choking, because I would have thought that kind of fair and decent treatment of all Australians ought to be an objective shared by all members of the House. Clearly I am wrong about that. The member for Mitchell raises with me the question of building costs under the Building the Education Revolution program. The member for Mitchell has raised this with me in the past in relation to the Baulkham Hills school in his electorate, which he raised in this parliament. What he raised at that time was an assertion that the school was being asked to accept a new hall rather than an extension to an existing hall. In making that claim in this parliament, the member for Mitchell was wrong. Having investigated the matter, of course the school is not having its hall pulled down. The proposal is to have the existing hall back-converted to provide two classrooms and to have a new hall built.


Ms Julie Bishop—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This may have been an answer to a previous question. We are asking about Annangrove Public School, and I would ask the minister to be brought back to this question.


The SPEAKER—The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The Deputy Prime Minister is responding to the question.


Ms GILLARD—I was asked about matters relating to building costs under the Building the Education Revolution program. I am simply making it clear to the member for Mitchell—who I assume is interested in schools in his electorate and, consequently, would be interested in the answer—that the assertion that he made in this parliament about Baulkham Hills High School is not correct. The member has come in today and made an assertion about another school in his electorate. I am sure I would be forgiven for making the remark, given that the current average of the member for Mitchell for raising these matters accurately in this parliament is zero. I will look at the matter he has raised with me, test whether or not it is ccurate and respond to it—but, of course, the member for Mitchell made an inaccurate statement in this parliament last time he questioned me. I will test whether or not his current claims are accurate. On the basis of his track record, one needs to be very sceptical about the things said by the member for Mitchell in this place.