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

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — I will make a brief contribution on the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Funding of Non Government Schools) Bill 2014. The shadow Minister for Education reminded me of why this bill is important. The school I went to out in the western suburbs is still waiting for that science block promised by the Menzies government, which really demonstrates why we need legislation to ensure that governments deliver on their promises. If we need a contemporary reminder of this principle, we can find one in the Auditor General’s report Additional School Costs for Families, and the table on page 4 of Appendix A with its several entries indicating that the amount of funding provided by the commonwealth government is ‘to be announced’.

I am very pleased to see that the opposition is not opposing the bill. There is really no reason to oppose it, because it has all the qualities of what makes good legislation and what makes for good public policy, especially in the education field. I refer to comments Stephen Elder, the executive director of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, made during the election campaign last year. In a press release of 20 November he said:

Every child deserves the best start to life and that child’s family deserves the right to government support, no matter which school they choose 

On this side of the chamber we do not believe in postcode politics where education funding is concerned. We believe in providing for that 37 per cent of students who do attend non government schools and in providing fairness and equity in their funding.

This is a good bill because it is clear about its objectives. It is transparent in its application, and it is very inclusive in its nature. The government has consulted widely on it, and the bill’s establishment of the School Policy and Funding Advisory Council is a very good thing. People from non government schools will be able to advise on exactly what their schools need and how they see the future of their schools being part of the vibrant and inclusive education agenda of this government.

This is a very good start for this government. As my colleague the member for Buninyong mentioned, we have before us two pieces of legislation. One is about providing young people with jobs — and that was a huge issue in my electorate during the campaign — and the other is about giving kids in non government schools a fair education provision.

I cannot resist again quoting Stephen Elder, who said:

We acknowledge and commend the speed with which the state government has introduced the bill so quickly after its election.

That is a ringing endorsement of not only the quality of this legislation we have before us but also the fact that we were speedy in bringing it forward. The bill is going to give the sector clarity and certainty about planning. Schools will be able to plan their budgets ahead. Hopefully they will not look at this report — but they will need to. The second thing is this bill will give families certainty about how they will deal with fees and contributions they may have to make to their children’s schooling going forward.

There is no reason to oppose this bill. Everybody should be on board. This is a good bill, and it is good for every child going out there and starting their schooling in the next couple of weeks. It is good for their families, it is good for their schools and as a consequence, as this government goes about creating the education state, you could not have a better start than this bill. I commend the bill to the house.