PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 16647

Transcript of Joint Press Conference with the Deputy Prime Minister Marsden State High School Queensland

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 30/06/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16647

PM: Well it's great to be here at Marsden High and with Julia Gillard the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Brett Raguse the local member, as well as the principal and school captains from this great state high school here in Queensland.

As I travel around the country, people say to me that it is great to see the Australian Government now investing big time in our schools. It's great to see the Australian Government now investing big time in our schools because the needs are great and that's why our building program and general investment program in our schools is so large and so significant.

The Government's overall strategy, given this global economic recession, we call Nation Building for Recovery. Supporting jobs, supporting small business, supporting apprenticeships today by investing in the nation building infrastructure we need for tomorrow, including the school infrastructure we need for tomorrow. And that's what Building the Education Revolution is all about.

On the jobs front, on the small business front, this Nation Building for Recovery plan of ours will support more than 200,000 jobs a year, each year for the next two years according to Treasury, that would otherwise be lost because of the global economic recession.

And those jobs are supported directly or through the encouragement we're also providing for small business and also to provide support for apprenticeships and traineeships as well. Important stuff, given what is happening around the world with the global recession and the impact which the recession globally is happening on economies everywhere, where unemployment is going through the roof. And Australia because of the policies we've taken is doing better than most of the other economies around the world.

That's on the jobs front. The other front is what we're actually doing in schools themselves and as I said it's supporting jobs today by investing in the school infrastructure we need for tomorrow. And that's why this program, Building the Education Revolution, is so important, building the school infrastructure we need for tomorrow.

Already the Deputy Prime Minister has been out there announcing projects for the National School Pride Program. Individual investments which support a whole series of improvements which are needed within schools today and that affects 10,000 schools across the country - primary, secondary, government, non-government.

Secondly, we have our Primary Schools for the 21st Century program. Yesterday in south-western Sydney I launched the first project for Government primary schools in NSW out at Minto. And that school is building a new multi-purpose hall for a school population of about 170 kids, first time in that school's history they're going to have a multi-purpose hall. And the kids, the P&C, they are just really positive, really excited about the things they'll be able to do there. Projects like that, multi-purpose halls, new state-of-the-art libraries, 21st century libraries, classroom modernisation is happening across 7,500 primary schools across our nation.

But thirdly for secondary schools and why we are here at Marsden High today is that the Deputy Prime Minister, together with myself, is announcing today the decision by the Government concerning 537 new science centres or language training centres or integrated centres combining both for secondary schools right across the country. This involves an investment of some $810 million.

Now where it becomes very practical in school communities like the one we're in here today at Marsden is the building of a new science centre, 21st century science centre, which will accommodate a whole new approach to chemistry labs, physics laboratories, biology experiments; the whole box and dice to create the best possible learning environment for science. And so too for language centres as well.

You see, it's part of our broader strategy also to encourage science in schools; making it really attractive for our young people to be studying sciences at secondary school, and maths. And also when they get to university, programs we've already put in place provide extra HECS encouragement for those students who choose to go on to study science and maths at secondary school level.

So that's what we're on about. Nation building for recovery, jobs today by investing in school infrastructure we need for tomorrow. Doing it at these three levels, for schools in general, for refurbishment, Primary Schools for the 21st Century, but today the announcement of 537 locations across the country for the building of these language centres and science centres for the 21st century as well. Supporting 210,000 jobs, making sure that these young people here, these young school captains behind me from Marsden High and those that come after them have the best possible facilities to pursue their careers in sciences and languages for the future. Over to you Julia.

DPM: Thank you Prime Minister. Can I say this is a very exciting announcement today of 537 new science or language centres. It's part of an integrated approach, it's another brick in building our education revolution. And if we look at that from a perspective of a school, from this school, for Marsden State School the education revolution is going to mean this new science facility. The education revolution has already promised for this school a new trades training facility, $1.3 million worth of new trades training equipment and facility for students who want a vocational pathway. The education revolution has already provided for this school $200,000 in National School Pride money and it has also provided more than 330 computers as part of the digital education revolution and more than 220 of them are already installed.

So looked at from the school view, this is a transformation: a transformation in its ability to teach science, a transformation in its ability to offer trades training pathways, a transformation in its ability to enable students to learn on the learning tools of the 21st century. And there are many schools around the country just like this, benefiting from the education revolution in a way that is transforming school education.

Now the Government deliberately decided in these difficult economic days of the global recession when we needed to support jobs, we deliberately decided that science laboratories and language centres were a priority. And that's because if you look at Australian education you'd say that there are two things to be concerned about. One is not enough kids studying maths and science. Consequently not enough teachers who are able to teach maths and science because if people don't study maths and science at secondary school then they can't go on to be a maths and science teacher later. And another problem with Australian education is not enough kids studying languages.

So we've decided through this program to invest in the capital schools need to enable them to better offer maths and science and languages. And this capital integrates with two important other education revolution programs. The HECS relief program the Prime Minister referred to, where if you go on at university to study maths and science you will have your HECS halved and if you go on to be a maths or science teacher in an area of need you'll have it halved again. And the language centres fit with our priority on the study of Asian languages to which we've devoted more than $62 million.

So the education revolution is an integrated package of policies of which today's announcement is a new and exciting part.

PM: Over to you folks. No questions? Right.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Say that again sorry I missed it.

JOURNALIST: Do we risk us falling behind in (inaudible) science in the Asia-Pacific region if we don't (inaudible)?

PM: I think what Julia the Deputy Prime Minister has been working through, and the rest of the Government is where we do fit into international league tables and where we want to be in the future. Because this actually goes to the heart of our future economic competitiveness as well as the best life opportunities and career opportunities for young people who are with us today.

And if you're going to stay ahead of the pack, be ahead of the curve, you've got to make sure that we're producing the absolute best in maths and science. These are what is often referred to as the great enabling disciplines, particularly in terms of the competitiveness of economies. That is one thing.

The other is because we are in the Asia Pacific region we want to have maximum investment in our ability as a country and as an economy to communicate with our markets of the future. And that means doing much, much better in how we teach Chinese, Japanese, how we teach Indonesian, how we teach other languages including Korean, as well as some of the European languages because we now live in a global economy.

So this makes sense for the long term. But what we're also saying is it makes sense for the economy in the here and now as well because with this building out here which will be worth what?

DPM: About $2 million.

PM: About $2 million. You're going to have probably 20 to 25 sets of tradies operating on site, representing sparkies and chippies and people to do the painting and the cleaning and the landscaping and everything else. Together with other indirect jobs generated which makes a difference here in this part of South East Queensland where we need to support jobs and small business in the here and now.

So what I am saying is for us it makes sense for the future as a country and I think parents that I've run into around the country are really excited about having these new facilities added to these schools, work which has often been needed to be done for a long time.

But secondly to make sure also that we're providing practical and immediate support for jobs and small business when there is so much pressure in the reverse direction in other economies around the world.

JOURNALIST: When are you going to bring in the halving of the HECs fees for maths students and science students.

PM: (inaudible)

DPM: That was a measure that was introduced in our first Budget and came into effect for this academic year.

PM: So we're trying to integrate this which is making facilities as attractive as possible and supportive as possible in the schools for our young people to pursue science and maths, and then to encourage them further through the halving of their HECS fees once they head off to university.

And a further policy as well, down the track - I am saying this to the kids by the way - if you do maths and science at university and you continue to work in those areas later on, then we halve it again. So halve the HECS fees again. So the whole purpose of our policy in this area is to provide a continuing stream of encouragement for our young people to take these careers seriously. And I am sure our Director of Science down here would understand some of the other pressures which young people are under and how these sort of measures can, I think, help to encourage people along the way.

JOURNALIST: One a slightly different topic if I may -

PM: Sounds like a change (inaudible)

JOURNALIST: - the health, a health snapshot that's out today, what do you think about that report?

PM: Well look this is the last major national report card on the hospital system off the back of the Howard Government's last Australian Health Care Agreement. It covers the period 07-08, we took over the beginning of 08 but the health care agreement from the federal Government carried on to that period.

So this is a report card which clearly underpins the problems that we must face in the system. The Government has already invested now $64 billion in a new Australian Health Care Agreement, a 50 per cent increase on the past. And we now have a big challenge of reform for the future and we intend to roll up our sleeves and get on with implementing long term reform.

JOURNALIST: Does that reform include the Commonwealth taking over the hospitals?

PM: Well we've been delivered, I think today, the report from the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission which we indicated prior to the election we would ask to do work for us on the future, the long term future of the health and hospital system for Australia. What we intend to do, roll up our sleeves, work through the recommendations of that report, work through it with the States and Territories and arrive at the necessary conclusions and policy decisions we must make as a national Government for the long term future of our health and hospital system. That'll take a bit of time.

We need to be methodical, careful, working our way through these recommendations, in a report I haven't seen yet by the way, it's on its way, and then work it through with the States and Territories and then take decisions.

We are dead set determined to get on with the business of long term reform in the health and hospital system. We've made a down payment in the $64 billion we've invested in the Australian Health Care Agreement so far - a 50 per cent increase on the previous agreement under the Howard Government.

JOURNALIST: If the health systems haven't improved, will the Commonwealth take over?

PM: Well as you know I was absolutely clear cut about that possibility prior to the last election. And that is why we have said the platform must be this report from the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission. That is being provided to the Government about now, we'll work our way through it and once we've worked our way through it in partnership with the States and Territories, we the Australian Government will make our decisions on the future. The platform for that policy debate is the report which will be handed over to the Government today.

JOURNALIST: Can we get an estimate on how long it will take to work through that report?

PM: I think it is very important to be careful, methodical about the long term future for health and hospital system which affects everybody in this room and everybody in the country. We've got to get it right.

But as I've said, this is not going from doing nothing to changing the future without what we've already done which is a $64 billion investment in the new Australian Health Care Agreement, which became applicable as of the beginning of this year. A 50 per cent increase on investment in the health and hospital system, compared with the previous health care agreement under the Howard Government.

And as you've seen today, that report card on the hospital system points to many, many problems. And that represents the concluding chapter of the Howard Government's health care agreement with the states which saw a billion dollars ripped out of the system, out of the public hospital system by the previous Government.

JOURNALIST: You said in August last year that midyear, that the States had until midyear to pick their game up on health. Are you still waiting for that report?

PM: Well I've just said to you, the report is just being handed over to the Government today. And I think we have been quite careful in making sure we had a properly constituted reform commission, with expertise across the medical profession and health professionals, chaired by Dr Bennett. That is being handed over to the Government today.

We will now work our way through the recommendations. We need to work our way through those recommendations with the States and Territories and we the Australian Government will then make our conclusions for what long term future our system needs.

Those reforms are necessary, absolutely necessary. And we need to get on with the business of long term reform. But a $64 billion investment in a health care agreement in the interim, 50 per cent increase on the past is our way of bridging from the previous system - and you saw the numbers produced on that - and where we need to be going for the future.

JOURNALIST: On another different subject, there are reports out of Indonesia that there are 10,000 illegal asylum seekers waiting to come here. Are we in charge of that in terms of border patrol etc, are we going to be able to stop that happening?

PM: This Government will continue to implement a hard line when it comes to border protection. Our navy has performed a first class job in interdicting these vessels at sea and taking them to Christmas Island for processing; that's the first point. Secondly we understand that this is a global problem affecting countries right around the region and right around the world.

Thirdly can I just say this in absolute clarity - that with anyone arriving by boat, intercepted by our navy and taken to Christmas Island for processing, if people are not found to be bona fide refugees they will be sent home. That is the bottom line here.

We have a process, a proper process for assessing this and that is the one that we apply. But we need to be also working with our friends and partners in the region and in the Budget we indicated some $650 million worth of measures involving enhanced border protection arrangements in the region and beyond.

JOURNALIST: Just from a practical sense with those sorts of numbers being talked about, are the facilities on Christmas Island big enough (inaudible)?

PM: The Department of Immigration has indicated that they have sufficient capacity to deal with these challenges in the future. Let's look at it in a multi-layered level. One is dealing with the problem in source countries. For example, without going to the specifics of individual nationalities, the instability recently in Sri Lanka is a factor, a very big factor on the Jaffna Peninsula.

So dealing with problems in source countries is critical, which is why again we've been clear about enhancing our police and related security representation in so many countries around the region including Sri Lanka. That's one, dealing with the problem in source countries.

Two, making sure that our cop on the beat - that is, the navy on the high seas and border protection and customs - are working effectively to interdict vessels as they move towards Australia and they have been remarkably successful given the technical difficulty of this task. That's the second point.

And the third is then making sure that you've got proper systems, processing systems in place so that if folk are arriving who are not bona fide refugees, then subsequent to processing they get sent home.

So you're dealing with this at all three levels and I believe the Government's strategy is well thought through, it's tough. But can I just say every Head of Government I speak to in the region and more broadly in the world is going to a similar set of challenges as we speak.

JOURNALIST: Is there capacity for Christmas Island to take in refugees? How many is that capacity?

PM: Oh look these are best questions put to the Immigration Minister.

JOURNALIST: You must be overjoyed about the polls.

PM: Can I just say the task of I think what mums and dads and Australians are saying to us loud and clear across the country is get on with the job as the Government has been doing of supporting jobs, small business, education and hospitals at a very difficult time in the global economy. And it's time for the end of the politics of fear and smear. And having said that I am about to zip.

[Ends]

Transcript 16647