Question Time: Education

Ms SWANSON (Paterson): My question is to the Minister for Education. What is the Albanese Labor government doing to invest in public education and support Australian workers, and what approaches has the government ruled out?

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (14:45): Can I thank my friend the legendary member for Paterson for her question. The Liberal Party ripped billions of dollars out of public schools, and we’re putting billions of dollars back in. On top of that, we’re also funding capital works upgrades for public schools that sometimes haven’t had them for years and years. For example, in the legendary member for Paterson’s electorate we’re upgrading the outdoor learning area at Rutherford Public School. In my friend the member for Chifley’s electorate we’re installing air conditioning and upgrading classrooms at Chifley College. In the member for Flynn’s electorate we’re building new classrooms at Woorabinda State School. And, in the member for Braddon’s electorate, there will be new classrooms at Parklands High School in mighty Burnie. They’re just a couple of examples.

This year, the government is funding more than $215 million in capital works upgrades to public schools right across the country, most of them in regional Australia and in the outer suburbs of our big cities. All of them require plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other tradies—and all of them, as we know, got a tax cut this week. A plumber helping to install a new toilet block who’s on 90 grand got a tax cut this week of almost $2,000. A chippy working on one of these projects on 100 grand got a tax cut this week of more than $2,000. And an electrician on 110 grand, installing new lighting on one of these projects, got a tax cut this week of more than $2,500. That’s real cost-of-living relief: tax cuts for every taxpayer, and not just tradies; truckies as well, and teachers, nurses, childcare workers, everyone—well, almost everyone.

There is one group of Australians who missed out and who didn’t get a tax cut this week. They’re those hardworking Aussies who work to keep our nation’s small modular nuclear reactors working. And that’s not because they don’t deserve it; it’s because they don’t exist—not here, not anywhere, except Russia perhaps, which, incidentally, is where the opposition leader’s economic policies come from: Howard and Costello replaced by hammer and sickle. We’re cutting taxes and building classrooms, and, on the other side, what do they want to do? They want to shut supermarkets and build Soviet-style nuclear reactors. The party of the forgotten people has forgotten who they are.