Bill's Transcripts


5 July 2013

Subjects: Better Schools, Home Insulation Program


TONY EASTLEY: The Education Minister Bill Shorten is standing firm in the face of calls to abandon the timing of the Government's proposed education reforms.

With only a handful of states signed up the Prime Minister extended the deadline until Sunday the 14th of July for the remaining states to agree to the plan, which itself is due to begin on the 1st of January.

The Opposition has described the process as "shambolic" and says it should be delayed for at least a year.

However Education Minister Bill Shorten has told Lexi Metherell he sees no reason to do that.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, I'm an optimist and I hope that through sensible, intelligent, pragmatic discussion, listening to all points of view, that remaining issues are ironed out.

LEXI METHERELL: Just in terms of timing though, are we going to see the plans rolled out on the 1st of January next year?

BILL SHORTEN: I see no reason why that shouldn't be the case.

LEXI METHERELL: And will the funding, the way that that funding is structured - is it likely that that will proceed as currently proposed, over the six years?

BILL SHORTEN: We've set out in the Education Act the model we intend to use. We've spelled out how we would fund the whole education plan. We've got a positive view of the future of our schools and most importantly the children within the schools.

LEXI METHERELL: But you've also said you're open to changes, so could this be one of the changes?

BILL SHORTEN: No, what I've said is I'm opening to listening to what our particular jurisdictions tell us about implementation, and beyond that we'll have to see how our talks go.

LEXI METHERELL: Minister, you know about workplace safety. Did you have concerns about the home insulation program in 2009?

BILL SHORTEN: I think you're referring perhaps to something you mentioned to me before we came on air about the Queensland Coroner's report. I'm aware the (inaudible) the report's been handed down. I'm afraid I don't know what has happened with that and I will get a briefing from my department.

LEXI METHERELL: I'm just asking about your view at the time that the insulation scheme, the massive scheme was being rolled out in a very short time frame. Surely as someone who has been involved with workplace safety for your career, you would have thought twice about whether that was a wise thing to do?

BILL SHORTEN: Well I wasn't directly involved, as you'll be aware, but I like everyone else was shocked when people were killed. There can be no greater tragedy than someone going to work and not coming home safely.

In terms of the rollout of the scheme, I do accept that some of those contractors who were coming into business to take advantage of the insulation scheme certainly abused the trust of their employees and the system and of citizens.

In terms of the Queensland Coroner's report, as I say, I'll have to have a look at that to be able to have a more informed discussion with you.

TONY EASTLEY: Federal Education Minister Bill Shorten, speaking to Lexi Metherell.

Media Contact: Jessica Lindell 0408 642 804