Keith Pitt: So I’m here today with Simon Birmingham, the Federal Minister for Education and of course the Senator the South Australia to open wonderful facilities right here in St James in Hervey Bay. This is a great opportunity for us to give direct feedback to the Federal Minister for Education about what’s important to the people in this electorate, and the things that we need for education. So I’m very pleased to be here with the Minister; it’s a great opportunity for our local region. Looking forward to your questions.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks very much Keith.It’s a real pleasure for me to be here in Hervey Bay today with Keith Pitt, the Member for Hinkler as part of a couple of days in the local area looking at educational facilities. I had the pleasure yesterday of spending some time with Llew O'Brien, our new LNP candidate in Wide Bay, meeting with local principals and school leaders in his communities to talk about some of the important issues in our education system, the challenges we face, and today with Keith to have visited at the local university campus here in Hervey Bay, the opening of these new fabulous new school facilities which demonstrate the importance of regional education and the opportunities that are there for students to undertake not just the basic schooling but to pursue all of their academic experiences in local communities.
We are very committed as a government to invest in education, to growing the funding available for schools into the future, to supporting regional educational opportunities and regional campuses like the university here in Hervey Bay, and I hear constantly from local MPs like Keith, local candidates like Llew O’Brien, the importance of support for families and students in regional communities, and I’m really pleased to see today, on the ground the benefits of that type of support, the benefits that come from investing $650,000 of Federal funding to support the new science facilities, new learning areas in a school like this, that provides evermore opportunities to students in the local community.
Question: So what sort of funding do you think is needed, or what sort of other steps do we need to take to sort of bridge that gap between regional students and metro students?
Simon Birmingham: Support for regional students entails ensuring excellence at every level of our education system, so [indistinct] support for early learning and child care facilities, support for schools, both government and non-government, and [indistinct] support for vocational training universities and higher educational opportunities. Now, we are putting record investment into school education already, and we’re committed to keep growing that every single year into the future. We are working through a package of potential university reforms where I am acutely aware of the importance of making sure they embody opportunities for students in regional areas to go on to university, and particularly look at the types of entry points to university where entry through sub-bachelor qualifications, diplomas or the like, is an important pathway program that is perhaps most relevant in universities and is one that the University of Sunshine Coast certainly raised with me today.
Question: So can we look forward to more of the same in others – like high school and primary schools here, or are- will it be focused on the university?
Simon Birmingham: We have to make sure that our focus across the education landscape is balanced and supports students at every step of their progression, so you know, we’re committed to maintaining and growing funding to schools into the future, each and every year. Non-government schools and government schools will both continue to receive record levels of Federal Government funding under the Turnbull Government into the future, which will grow each and every year. We want to support the choice of parents as to the type of school they want to go to, to send their children to, but we also recognise the need to give that investment to ensure that whatever that school is, the students get the best possible educational outcome.
Now that’s not just about the type of money that’s there, it’s also about the quality of the teachers, the training of the teachers, and working with the local universities to ensure that the teacher training they’re undertaking is getting us highly skilled, highly literate, well qualified in maths and language, and teachers who are able to really deliver the type of quality educational experience we need for regions like Hervey Bay to be part of an innovative economy well into the future.