Liberals lost for words over Labor laptop plan

Liberals lost for words over Labor laptop plan

Summary: The Opposition spokesperson for education has accused the Labor government of trying to back-pedal on its commitment to provide a laptop for every student between years 9 and 12.

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The Opposition spokesperson for education has accused the Labor government of trying to back-pedal on its commitment to provide a laptop for every student between years nine and 12.

Senator Brett Mason, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education, told ZDNet.com.au today that the Labor government is "watering down" its pre-election policy to provide laptops to each individual student to now providing "access" for each student.

Senator Brett Mason, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education (Credit: Parliament of Australia)

"The language has changed since the election from a definite one laptop per student merely to 'access' for every student," said Mason, claiming Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had adapted the wording of the policy in a number of instances.

Mason levelled the same criticism at Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research saying that Carr and the Prime Minister had "cheated" every parent of every student eligible for a computer under the policy.

The Liberal senator said the Labor party should not have made such "grand sweeping statements" ahead of the election, and refuted Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard's assertion last month that "some schools have virtually no access" to computers for their students. Mason cited a 2005 OECD report into the matter which stated that 99 percent of Australian schoolchildren had access to a computer, based on figures collected in 2003.

"Based on the number of computers per student I think we're the third highest in the world," he said.

Gillard made her comments in January at the halfway mark of a national schools IT audit, administered by the Council of Australian Government (COAG) to establish a priority list of schools most in need of computers as part of the first phase of the federal government's digital education revolution. The audit was expected to be complete by mid February, although no announcements on its results have been made yet.

Despite this, Mason said the government has again started to refer to the policy aim to provide a laptop for "every student", but only after a Senate Estimates Committee hearing yesterday.

"The real question is who's going to pay for it?" said Mason. "One hundred million dollars isn't going to be enough in itself, and who's going to look after the maintenance and ongoing associated costs?"

"The government wasn't telling me that in the estimates committee yesterday," he said.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Hardware, Laptops, IT Employment

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6 comments
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  • 500,000 OLPC X0 == $100 million

    Obviously a job for OLPC, if only the new government has the foresight and will to adopt that platform
    anonymous
  • Too late

    The ALP never claimed a notebook per student. If the libs and the media had made the effort to read the ALP published policies during the election campain (I did) they could have put Rudd to the blow torch back then.
    anonymous
  • OLPC

    Absolutely, either OLPC or EEEPC! Either way its Linux & not Microsux.

    How do you like them apples Steve "I'm gonna f#@%ing kill Google" Balmy-Ballmer??
    anonymous
  • Dissapointed

    I am highly dissapointed with the government, I myself am a student and was told by many teachers and friends of mine that we were getting a laptop. But now that i have read this we obviously arent, if the government are gonna say they are going to do something i suggest they do it because the way they are going right now they wont get re-elected in the next election.
    anonymous
  • I am dissapointed....but

    i am very dissapointed about kevin rudd telling us that we wood get a laptop....however u have to remember thet he is a politician.....the lowest life-form on the planet so to speak...lolzz.....and nothing a politician says can be trusted...this is exactly y i think John Howard shood have been re-elected....
    anonymous
  • It's Coming

    According to my teachers, in my school, all year 9 - 12 will get their laptop in term 3 or somewhere near July. We don't know what kind of laptop it is yet. It was said to be orange but it changed.
    anonymous