Bill's Transcripts



25 JULY 2013



SUBJECT/S: Better Schools Plan

It's great to be here at Guilford Young Secondary College along with Jane Austin, Labor's candidate for Denison. This school is one of many schools in Tasmania who is going to receive increased funding going forward to help the 900 students at this school. Catholic schools, independent schools, government schools in Tasmania are all going to receive extra resources to make them better schools over the next five years so that Tasmania's school children and their parents will know that they're getting the best start in life.

What this school's doing in the Catholic system is quite remarkable. From the Trades Trading Centre which has been supported by Federal Labor right through to its new creative arts performance spaces, there's a lot of good things happening at this school. In these suburbs of Hobart, some families are doing okay and some are doing it tough. But any parent who's sending their child to this school knows that their child is getting the love and attention which every child in Australia deserves.

Like most Australians, I've never worked in a school, but like every Australian, in part who I am is due to the education I received, the support of my parents, and the efforts of the teachers.

This is a marvellous school which is doing remarkable things, and the students we've met are really second to none around the children I've met in Australia. If this deal of better resources for Catholic schools in Tasmania and nationally is good enough for the National Catholic Education Commission, if this deal for governments schools in Tasmania – ably negotiated by Premier Lara Giddings – is good enough for children in governments schools in Tasmania, if this deal of better schools is good enough for school children across the independent, Catholic systems, and indeed government schools in New South Wales, South Australia, ACT and Tasmania, it is time for the Coalition to put politics to one side, to invest in our children, to offer bipartisan support for better schools so that individual children can get the individual resources they need to do as well as they can.

So that school communities can have the authority and school principals can have the authority to make decisions in the best interests of their school communities. So that kids who are struggling with literacy and numeracy can do better. So that children perhaps who are doing really well and just need that little bit of extra support to really expand their personal borders of imagination and creativity.

It is time to take the politics out of the school children's education in Australia. And I hope that the Victorian Government is able to negotiate a good agreement with the national Labor Government, because school children in Australia should come first, politics should come second. Happy to take questions.

QUESTION: Are you any closer to having Victoria sign up?

BILL SHORTEN: We’ve had very constructive discussions with the Victorian Government. I believe we've made good progress in the last few days and weeks, as we did with the Tasmanian Government, led by Premier Lara Giddings. As we have done in recent weeks with the national Catholic education system, which will see this school receive literally hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the next six years.

If Premier Napthine is able to – as he's indicated he wants to – strike a deal for Victoria and not worry about his Coalition counterparts Federally, I think the hundreds and thousands of children in governments schools in Victoria stand to be the winners. But I can't guarantee success, but we are making very good progress.

QUESTION: What's the deadline?

BILL SHORTEN: Well I believe that the offers we've made of working collaboratively with the Victorian Government, we should be able to reach a result or to know where we stand by Friday, hopefully. One thing I know is that Canberra and the national Government, do not want to run schools in Australia directly. That is appropriately the preserve of the Victorian Government, the Tasmanian Government, the Catholic Education Commission of Tasmania.

We in the National Government do not want to run schools but we do want schools have their funding for children based upon the needs of children. If you're a child with a disability, you do need support in a school. If you're a child who perhaps comes from an Indigenous background or a very poor background, you probably do need more support than if you come from a more affluent background.  We want all children to gain an increase in expenditure so that they can get the individual outcomes they want. This is not beyond the capacity of the state governments who haven't signed up to do a deal with the National Government.

Barry O'Farrell, Premier of New South Wales, proud member of the Liberal Party, has done a deal with the national Labor Government. The National Catholic Education Commission who are not interested in the politics of who's right and who's wrong between Labor and Liberal, they've done a deal with myself and Prime Minister Rudd because they are interested in the best interests of Catholic school children, such as the ones here at Guilford Young.  So there's no reason why we should fail if there is sufficient good will.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, this funding that you're talking about for the Better Schools funding, has that already been announced or is there new funding on top of that that's being announced?

BILL SHORTEN: No, we've announced that for the 259 schools or so in Tasmania, the 82,000 that go to school in Tasmania, all of them now through the arrangements we've struck with Premier Giddings, with the independent schools, with the Catholic schools in Tasmania, every child in Tasmania is going to see over the next six years more resources than they've ever had before focused on them.  Every child is unique.  Every child is in a different stage of learning. Different children are interested in different things in their learning.

We just want to make sure that after 13 years of school, that Australia's producing school children as young adults who are resilient, who are skilled, who have the confidence to tackle whatever the world dishes up to them, and are capable of finding the jobs and the passions and the vocations which we know exist within every unique child. Thanks.

QUESTION: Can I just ask one more?

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Just in terms of the 3.5 million that Guilford Young's getting for creative arts facility, do you think it should have been made a bit clearer that that's not actually new money that was announced over a month ago?

BILL SHORTEN: So I think it's possible to get too cynical about politics and I think it's important that we've had a difficult time in the minority government, and now I think Australians are looking for positive attitudes in both the conservatives and Labor.

So when you ask me about $3.5 million dollars, I tell you where it comes from. It doesn't come from an announcement on a particular day of the week.  It comes from the taxpayer. And this Government, we choose to exercise taxpayer funds in the interests of the education of Tasmanians.

We also passionately believe in the creative arts, in drama, in music and bringing people together. There's a lot that is good about Hobart and there's a lot that's good about Tasmania. So let's not look at a particular issue about press releases. What for me is most important is – this is what you get with the Federal Labor Government – we choose the creative arts. We choose to spend scarce taxpayer dollars to promote the richer cultural life.  Communities are not just jobs and are not just homes and are not just hospitals. They're all important [indistinct].


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