MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: Education
Labor cannot be believed when it comes to education. Labor cannot be trusted when it comes to much at all. I will take the shadow minister up on a couple of things. She talked about Labor's funding policy. This parliament governs for a nation, this parliament governs for the Commonwealth. But, when Labor left office, its half-baked education funding policy did not take into account Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory—
Ms Kate Ellis interjecting—
Mr McCORMACK: You've had your go, so just be quiet. Over the next four years, this government is putting almost $70 billion into schools. This government is putting $54 billion into higher education and $13 billion into skills. Each and every year, this government spends more than $9 billion on science and research—record investment. In government, Labor cut $1.35 billion from its own policy designed to encourage students to take up mathematics and science. In government, Labor promised 2,650 trade training centres but delivered just over 300. In government, Labor cut $1,000 million from apprenticeships. In government, Labor spent $2.1 billion on a productivity based training program which one in two people failed to finish—and, of those who did finish, only one in five found a job. In government, Labor made $6.6 billion worth of cuts to higher education and research funding and left significant research infrastructure with absolutely no funding whatsoever. Shame on Labor!
But today is an exciting day. When we talk about innovation—and that is what the shadow minister's matter of public importance debate was about—we talk about the defence white paper. I listened very carefully in question time today and I noticed that question after question from our side was about the defence white paper. But what did we see from the other side? Not one question was asked about the defence white paper, the most significant defence white paper that we have had—and the first to be fully costed, I might add. But what did we see? The only thing Labor was interested in about Defence today was to question, shamefully, the appointment of the member for Bass as chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The member for Isaacs said:
Bipartisanship is put at risk by Mr Nikolic, who has made his political career out of being a highly partisan, highly aggressive battler for extreme right wing views.
And he continued:
What we see here is Mr Turnbull again, regrettably, pandering to the extreme right of his party; and if it be the case that Mr Nikolic becomes the chair of this very important committee, what we will be seeing is in fact turning a national security matter into a political plaything of internal machination.
'Political plaything'—that is disgraceful! The member for Bass has done more for national security, more for the Australian Army, more for the Australian Defence Force than the member for Isaacs could ever hope to. Shame on the member for Isaacs! I cannot believe that he would even call into question the member for Bass's credentials for this important committee.
The member for Bass once headed the Australian Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka. He was the first to come through the ranks in 1979 as a soldier recruit to then reach that high elevation to command that important base—that important base, I might add, which is going to receive significant funding under the Australian defence white paper announced by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, this morning. The member for Bass has every credential. As a member of the Army he completed three postings to the Middle East, as UN team leader in Israel, Syria and South Lebanon; chief of staff and deputy commander of Australia's first contribution to Afghanistan; and the first Australian national commander in southern Iraq—and I could go on.
For the member for Isaacs to question his credentials to head up that important committee, I find disgraceful. But that showed typical form by the member for Isaacs. The member for Isaacs should come into this chamber and he should apologise. If anybody treated national security as a plaything it was Labor. When it came to defence, Labor did not give a ship—did not give a ship about defence.
Opposition members interjecting—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order!
Mr McCORMACK: Not one ship did they order.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The Assistant Minister for Defence will not use such language and he should withdraw that word. I do not intend to repeat it for him; he knows what it is.
A government member: He said S-H-I-P.
Mr McCORMACK: They did not build one ship.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sorry; I misheard. I thought you were using another word. I apologise.
Mr McCORMACK: Labor did not build one ship. On its watch, under six years, Labor did not build a ship. Labor put defence spending as a proportion of gross domestic product down to its lowest level since 1938—and we all know what happened in 1939. I listened carefully in question time today, and we did not hear too many questions about defence from those opposite. But I listened carefully to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.
Ms Chesters interjecting—
Mr McCORMACK: The member for Bendigo should be quiet. I acknowledge that the Bushmaster, that wonderful Australian invention, comes out of her electorate, but there is so much more in the Australian defence white paper and there is so much more for the regions.
Mr Ewen Jones: Hear, hear!
Mr McCORMACK: I heard 'hear, hear' from the member for Herbert. He knows how important the Australian defence white paper is going to be for the regions. The member for Bendigo should be quiet and listen to just how important the defence white paper is going to be.
We heard the Minister for Veterans' Affairs talk about Melbourne based Marand trailers and how they are going to be able to put jet engines on those Australian invented trailers. That is significant. That company is going to grow from 250 jobs to goodness knows how many. We heard the Prime Minister talk about the $16 billion cut from defence by those opposite. We heard the Minister for Foreign Affairs talk about what the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said about the greatest threat to stability and peace that we face as a globe. That is why the defence white paper is so significant. That is why the defence paper is so important. But do those opposite care? All they did in question time today was mock and knock. You could see it. When the member for Wright stood to ask his question, they just laughed disgracefully. They do not care one iota about the defence white paper—but they should, because we are in troubled times. We are in times where our national security, unfortunately, is at risk. That is why the defence white paper is so important.
We heard the minister for immigration talk about the 12 new offshore vessels which will be ported in Darwin, in the member for Solomon's electorate—so important. Those opposite just think that the Navy was there to help them stop the boats. But, unfortunately, that did not stop the boats, and 800 of them came here unauthorised during their watch. The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science talked about the high-tech manufacturing which will come as a result of the defence white paper. He said that 'defence industry is a pillar' of our defence capability—our defence capability which is so very important.
There is an additional $29.9 thousand million going to be put into defence over the next 10 years—a fully-costed 10-year integrated investment program; $196 billion to be invested in defence capability over the next decade; $26 billion to upgrade defence bases—almost a billion of which will go to RAAF Wagga at Forest Hill and the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka, which the member for Bass so capably and so honourably led from 2003 to 2004; $19 billion to operate and maintain the defence estate—taking in many, many areas throughout the regions that the National Party and the regional Liberals so proudly represent; and $5 billion in enhancing defence's critical ICT—which, at this morning's announcement, brought a rousing cheer from those wonderful ADFA cadets present, those wonderful young people who are the future. When we talk about defence capability we are not just talking about machines and weaponry; we are also talking about the people who will drive innovation. There will be more of them under an Australian Defence Force funded by the coalition—funded by this government, which recognises the defence white paper and the importance of it. It is time Labor got on board.