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Labor bashes Bishop in schoolyard stoush

Labor's education spokesperson Stephen Smith has hit back at federal Education Minister Julie Bishop's claims that a Labor government will be unable to deliver its promise of a digital education revolution.

Labor's education spokesperson Stephen Smith has hit back at federal Education Minister Julie Bishop's claims that a Labor government will be unable to deliver its promise of a digital education revolution.

In a statement released by Labor yesterday, Smith accused the Liberal Party of contradicting themselves after the education minister said she is yet to visit a school in Australia that is "not well served by computers."

Communications Minister Helen Coonan later that day said that Labor's digital education plan had "fallen billions of dollars short."

Labor's Smith could not resist highlighting this apparent contradiction.

He went on to ask: "How is it that students can have an adequate number of computers, when according to the Communications Minister, Labor's plan still requires billions of dollars of investment?"

"The Howard government just can't seem to get its lines right," he said.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Education said her remarks had been taken out of context and that Bishop was in fact trying to point out that providing technology for schools "is an ongoing process".

The spokesperson also said that "Labor has promised to revolutionise education, but all they've done is to extend some of the Howard government's policies."

Labor's Smith said that according to OECD figures Australia could do better in providing technology for students.

"While Australia ranks well against other OECD countries in terms of the number of computers per student, the ratio is still only an average of one computer for every four students," he said.

Smith said that Labor's plan "will lift this so that every upper secondary school student has access to a computer, placing Australia in a world leading position."

Minister for Education Bishop said yesterday that the government had already spent AU$128 million dollars on ICT for schools since the last federal election as part of its Investing in Our Schools Programme.

According to its policy release, the Labor party plans to spend AU$1 billion over four years "to turn every secondary school in Australia into a digital school".