Education and Training Reform Amendment (Funding of Non-Government Schools) Bill 2014

Written on the 26 February 2015

Second Reading 

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan)


I am pleased to rise this afternoon to make a brief contribution to this important bill, the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Funding of Non-Government Schools) Bill 2014.

This afternoon I have been listening to the contributions of members to this important debate, and I thank them for those contributions.

As has been articulated and highlighted by a number of speakers, the bill proposes amendments to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 to provide a transparent approach to funding across the education system, with the primary goal of meeting student needs. The bill secures recurrent funding for non-government schools. It is particularly important for my constituents within Southern Metropolitan Region that this bill is being debated this afternoon.

There are approximately 50 independent schools within my electorate. I note that Mr Dalidakis, who also represents the Southern Metropolitan Region, spoke of the Labor Party being the party of education. I would have to say that that was rather a grand statement from Mr Dalidakis in his . . .

Mrs Peulich: Fanciful.

Ms CROZIER:   A fanciful statement quite right, Mrs Peulich.

I make the point that the Liberal Party has a very proud and long-standing legacy of supporting non-government schools as well as state schools. As someone who grew up in far western Victoria, it is obvious to me that my family relied upon the state school system. When I went to primary school and I am sure other members in the house probably had similar experiences the school was attended by only a small number of students. I think my primary school had 24 students from prep to grade 6.

Mr Ramsay: And they were all related.

Ms CROZIER:  Not quite, but nearly. The state provides a very good mechanism for providing an education system so that students can learn skills - the very necessary and basic skills of writing and arithmetic and all those things that we rely on in this modern age. We are very lucky to have a very good education system, and it needs to be supported. However, equally we have a very good non-government education system that also provides a very good education system to those parents who want to have a choice in where their children are educated.

Mrs Peulich interjected.

Ms CROZIER:  Yes, they are all taxpayers, Mrs Peulich and they take the burden off the state system. Some parents take the burden off the state system by putting their children through Catholic and non-government schools and by paying school fees into an education system that provides the necessary skills that I have spoken of for children's wellbeing and so that children are able to participate in a meaningful way.

As I said, the Liberal Party has a strong and proud history of freedom of choice and freedom of education, and the right of parents to choose is certainly one of the principles we stand by.

I turn again to Mr Dalidakis's fanciful statement that the Labor Party is a party of education. I know that those opposite made a big deal of that in the lead-up to the 2014 election, but I commend the previous government, and certainly the former Minister for Education, Martin Dixon, the member for Nepean in the Assembly, for being very committed to supporting the Catholic and non-government school sectors.

Indeed this support was highlighted when the previous Labor government was in power, and it was a policy of the coalition to commit to the provision of 25 per cent of the cost of education for Catholic and non-government schools.

In a 2008 media release the now shadow Minister for Education, the member for Ferntree Gully in the Assembly, said:

A Victorian Liberal-Nationals coalition government will increase state government grants to Catholic schools, using a needs-based formula, to around 25 per cent of the cost of educating a government school student.

That highlights the focus of what the coalition government was undertaking that is, that this funding issue is really about the student. I am pleased that the government recognised the importance of this area as well and has brought in this bill to be debated. I am also pleased that the opposition's position has been highlighted by Mrs Peulich in her contribution, and I am sure that when Mr Finn gets to his feet he will also speak highly of what has been undertaken and about the importance of supporting the aims of this bill.

I do not intend to make a long contribution on this bill. Other members have spoken very clearly about the need for these changes to occur. I listened to the contribution of Dr Carling-Jenkins, and I am sure that those further issues will be teased out during the committee stage. However, I very much support what is being done here. Having made those brief comments, I support the bill that is before the house.


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