Questions Without Notice - Education Funding

Wednesday, 04 December 2013

Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (14:22): My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Minister for Education. Does the government still maintain the view, as expressed by the Minister for Education only last week, that 'I do not believe there is an equity problem in Australia'?

Senator PAYNE (New South Wales—Minister for Human Services) (14:23): I thank Senator Carr for his question. If the senator's question is directed to the results of the PISA that were announced overnight, the Program for International Student Assessment, I think there are a number of aspects in that to which we might turn our attention. Unfortunately, the results of PISA 2012 show us most particularly that Labor's performance in education was a dismal failure. The 2012 PISA results are the worst ever in all fields and our international rankings are the lowest ever. In maths we have dropped from 15th to 19th, in reading from ninth to 14th and in science from 10th to 16th.

Honourable senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: I remind senators on both sides that debating across the chamber at this stage is completely disorderly. If you wish to debate it, do so after three o'clock.

Senator PAYNE: What is even more concerning is that when you analyse real Commonwealth funding per student between 2009 and 2011 it actually rose by 10 per cent. So the Labor government spent a record amount whilst also getting the worst results ever and student performance significantly behind results from 2000-06.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I raise a point of order on relevance. The specific question was about equity and a minister's previous statement. We would like to hear an answer.

The PRESIDENT: I believe the minister is addressing the question. The minister has 41 seconds remaining. There is no point of order. The minister.

Honourable senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: Order! When I call a senator to rise to their feet to answer a question the minister is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator PAYNE: I was about to say that we are also surrounded by countries in the Asian region which are significantly outperforming us. Our schoolchildren are on average two to three years of schooling behind students in Shanghai, for example. What the report did find in relation to Australia is that we are a high equity education country, that in fact they found that socioeconomic background is less important in determining student performance in Australia compared to the OECD average, explaining in the report that only 12 per cent of the overall variation in student performance in Australia is relevant to that— (Time expired)


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