We are talking about the educational program, which is very important to all Australians. I can understand what Senator Bernardi is saying about the funding. One Nation has been having extensive talks not only with the government but with interested groups like Catholic schools, education, parents and Labor. We have sat down to try and find some common sense in where we are headed with this. We will be supporting the government’s Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017, but I do have a few things to say about it.
The Labor Party have been talking about there being a cut under this bill of $22 billion. My understanding is that it is a lie. There is no cut of $22 billion. It is like Labor have gone out there and promised: ‘We were going to be putting an extra $30 billion into the educational funding. Now the government is bringing it back to $18.6 billion, so therefore Australians have lost $22 billion.’ No, you can have your wish list; you can go out there and say, ‘We’re going to give you this money,’ but unless it is actually there on paper, in black and white—I can go out and say, ‘I’m going to give you $1,000,’ when I only have $500 to give. Unless you produce it, don’t go out there telling lies to the public. That is exactly what they are doing now.
They are out there making these robocalls around Queensland saying, to all the workers at the coal mines there: ‘This is the CFMEU and we’re ringing you to tell you that Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is supporting the Liberal Party and they’re going to cut $22 billion out of government funding. This is a real cut to you. She’s destroying educational funding.’ This is another lie. This is basically like Labor’s ‘Mediscare’. You lie to people, you are not up-front with people, you are hypocrites. I would suggest, if you have to pull these dirty tactics and stunts on people to get back the votes in Queensland, that if you were honest with people, if you were up-front with people, you might do a better job than you are doing now. But the people are waking up to you.
My concern about this is: why do we need another $18.2 billion thrown at this when the federal funding for education now is just under $88 billion? On top of that there is state funding as well as parents who pay fees to send their kids to schools. When I went to school we did not have all this money thrown at us. Our education levels are dropping. Australia used to be very high on the list of educational standards, but we are dropping. People say it is because of lack of money—’Let’s throw more money at it.’ Throwing money at it is not always the answer, and I do not believe it is the answer now. We have lost control over our classrooms. But I think the main issue here is that we have lost the quality of teachers, because over the years these do-gooders who want everyone to feel good about themselves have come into the education system saying to kids: ‘You’re all right; you don’t have to compete in the classroom, you don’t have to have grades, you don’t have to perform to be top of the class, so we’re going to take grading away. We’re not going to tell your parents whether you got 40 per cent or 85 per cent, because we want you to feel good about yourselves.’ They are not competing.
I am telling you, that is what the real shock in our society is, because the kids are not competing in the classrooms and they are not competing when they get out of the classrooms either. When they get out into the real world and into the workforce, there is no competition, and life is about competition; it is about striving to do the best you can. Unless you know what standard you are at, how do you know how much further you have to strive? I have spoken to the education minister about this—that things need to change. It is not about throwing more money at it; it is about how we can improve our educational standards.
It is absolutely pathetic, seeing the way children write—or that they cannot write. We used to have a decent standard of handwriting called ‘running writing’. Now kids are flat out even learning how to write, let alone do maths. And maths is not a prerequisite in every classroom. They cut out maths. In some schools you do not necessarily have to learn maths, science or even English. They are the basics that we need as part of our education for the rest of our life. And as Senator Bernardi said, kids cannot add up. How right that is. In my shop, we had the till there, and the till would tell you what change to give, but when we had blackouts the young staff did not even know how to count money out. Unless the till tells them how to do it, they cannot calculate—they cannot work out anything in life—because they are not taught the maths. We are relying for everything on computers, on calculators, and in real life that is not always at your fingertips to use.
We need to go back to the basics. In the classroom there is a lack of discipline. The teachers are told that they cannot discipline the kids. And our educational system is now teaching the kids their rights. They say, ‘Your parents can’t tell you what to do, because you have your rights.’ Then when the kids go home their parents tell them something and the kids say, ‘You can’t tell me that; I know my rights.’ Parents have that right. This is what the problem is in our education system. Kids need to know that if they do the wrong thing they will be disciplined, and teachers should have control over their classrooms. A lot of teachers want that.
Regarding the push for Safe Schools, most parents I talk to don’t want that. They think it is a load of rubbish and they do not want their kids to be confronted with this. Yes, it has been forced onto the kids in some schools.
I hope this whole package works for our kids and for our education system. It will be brought before the board and I will continue to talk to the education minister with regard to bringing in maths and science and on the issue of the quality of our teachers, and stopping pushing them through the education system. What we especially need to stop is this attitude that everyone must go on to university. No, they do not. If you have kids who are not academically minded it would be better to get them on the tools or in the trade. Why don’t we push that? Why don’t we give them a better understanding so that businesses can go to classrooms and tell them what it is like to be a plumber, an electrician or an IT professional, or something else, rather than peer pressure saying to them that they must go on to university.
At the end of the day the is no real qualifying level you need to get into university. We have peer pressure making everyone feel they have to go to university. It will be a cost to the taxpayer and the student will never pass. It is like, ‘I’ve been to university. Which one did you go to?’ without there being a standard for education. Let’s give kids the opportunity to choose other professions. Let them leave at year 10, if they are not academically minded, instead of keeping them in the education system just to bolster the figures so that they are not on Newstart or youth allowance and are not in the unemployment queues. Give them opportunity to go on to other trades.
That leads to TAFE colleges. TAFEs are being shut down. They are not getting the funding that is so important to a lot of young people who do not want to go on to further education in our universities. It needs to be funded and looked after. I will be supporting that for the TAFE colleges, and the government will look at it. I know the TAFEs have been under a lot of pressure.
The Catholic schooling systems have been concerned about this issue. They take up a lot of the slack—not only the Catholic schools but a lot of other non-government education centres. They are trying to do their best to educate a lot of people across the country. There has been talk about who is getting money and who is losing money and where the funding is coming from. The government is going to give non-government schools 80 per cent of this funding—they do not get state funding—and the state schools will be getting 20 per cent of the funding. On average, for each child at primary school there will be just over $10,000 and for each child at high school there will be approximately $13,000 funding. This package will give around 3.7 per cent in extra funding per child.
I thank Senator Back for the issues he has raised and which he spoke to us about. The government needs to look at whether this funding is going to have an impact on some schools, especially those in the lower socioeconomic areas, and whether will they close. That concerns me greatly. I am pleased to hear that they are actually going to put in place a requirement that that be reviewed in a year’s time. I think that is very important as it will give it time to settle in and see that it is working. Senator Bernardi said that he does not want to take it over the 10 years. My concern is that schools and everyone else needs to know what is happening in the future. They plan further ahead than that.
If you only do it at four years, my concern is that, if Labor gets in at the next election, it will blow completely out of proportion. They will make all these wishes and throw billions more dollars at it without dealing with the real problem. There will be money spent that we will not have. I hate to think what Labor would throw at funding for the schools, because we cannot afford it. Like I said, it has been a real issue for One Nation to come to a decision on whether to support this at an extra $18.6 billion to the Australian taxpayers. But I hope that this will improve our educational standards if it is addressed in the classroom. I think that is what is very important about it.
There is another thing that we need to address, and I will go back to the classrooms again. I hear so many times from parents and teachers whose time is taken up with children—whether they have a disability or whether they are autistic—who are taking up the teacher’s time in the classroom. These kids have a right to an education, by all means, but, if there are a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention. Because most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who is straining at the bit and wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education. That child is held back by those others, because the teachers spend time with them. I am not denying them. If it were one of my children I would love all the time given to them to give them those opportunities. But it is about the loss for our other kids. I think that we have more autistic children, yet we are not providing the special classrooms or the schools for these autistic children. When they are available, they are at a huge expense to parents. I think we need to take that into consideration. We need to look at this. It is no good saying that we have to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and that we do not want to upset them and make them feel hurt. I understand that, but we have to be realistic at times and consider the impact this is having on other children in the classroom.
We cannot afford to hold our kids back. We have the rest of the world and other kids in other countries who are going leaps and bounds ahead of us. Unless we keep up a decent educational standard in this country we will keep going further backwards and backwards, and our kids will not be the ones who are getting the good jobs in this country. They will be bringing in people from overseas and filling positions in this country that belong to our children. Our education is very important, and I feel that it needs to be handled correctly and we need to get rid of these people who want everyone to feel good about themselves. Let us get some common sense back into our classrooms and into what we do. Like I said, One Nation has spoken to many areas. Have we got it right? I hope we have got it right, because it is very important.
I see so much in this place. It is the blame game, and Labor opposes so much all the time just because they are in opposition. It is a pity that parliamentarians in this place do not sit down and really have clear discussions with each other and find what is best for the people, because they are sick and tired of this. Labor, you said that you wanted to throw money at this. I think the $18.6 billion is a good start. It is a start. Why can’t you work with the government on this, and then build on that? If this money is not going to the place where it is supposed to, and if it does need more funding, then work together to increase the funding. Stop opposing things just because of the fact that you are in opposition. It is about working together for the future of this nation. I just get so frustrated with the whole lot here, because I know people want the right answers. Not everyone—and I have heard it from those who are Liberal voters—is entirely happy with this package, whether they are hearing the right message not. ‘What is right?’ is a tough decision to make, but at least this is a step in the right direction, and that is what we are trying to do. One Nation is trying to handle this in a way that gives assistance to all those parents and schools, and extra funding for educational policy. That is One Nation’s stance on it. We will be supporting the government on this bill.
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