House debates

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Matters of Public Importance

Education Funding

3:51 pm

Photo of Karen McNamaraKaren McNamara (Dobell, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I do take my role as a federal member as being very important. One thing that I will always fight for is the schools in my area. I go into many of my schools and I have built a very good working relationship with them. One thing I do support is needs based funding. Going into the schools in my area—and we have a lot of low socioeconomic areas—and seeing these kids, I want to make sure that they have the same opportunity as kids on the North Shore, which is only an hour away from my electorate.

One thing that is really concerning is the union lies that are currently going around about 'Gonski, Gonski, Gonski'—and seeing the signs outside the schools with 'Gonski'. Misleading information is being given to families. Tell the truth. The truth is that we have not cut funding to schools—

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

We have not cut funding to schools. Obviously, the member for Perth was not listening in question time. There is a record $69.4 billion in total Commonwealth funding over the forward estimates, representing an increase of 27.3 per cent in funding from 2014-15. We have not cut funding. It is very important that we do provide that support to the teachers. In Dobell, I have amazing teachers and they do a fantastic job. But the reality is that a lot of them are not interested in the rhetoric from the Teachers Federation. They roll their eyes when they mention to me a particular union organiser who comes through the schools. They are interested in their kids—and that is what I am interested in too. They are interested in seeing these kids have a fair go and get an education, not listening to the rhetoric and lies of the unions—your union masters. On the Central Coast, they are already putting out flyers about what they are going to be campaigning on at the next election—and, surprise surprise, it is penalty rates, GST and Gonski. These are the same people who have wasted thousands of dollars on a debate over the China free trade agreement that never happened. These are the same people who do a photo shoot outside my office; they take their photos and then they run around the corner and have coffee—and they put it on their credit card. I am not going to talk about credit cards, I am going to talk about education and giving schools a fair go. So stop your lies. All it is is lies. Tell the truth to the families. Tell the truth to the kids.

Let us not forget the Labor legacy. A lot of these kids spent six years of their formative education under Labor. We know that there is an issue with a lot of kids leaving school these days in regard to literacy and numeracy. I talk to a lot of employers in Dobell about the barriers to employing young people, and the common theme is their literacy and numeracy. So we ask the question, 'What is going on?' And I know that both sides are saying, 'What is going on with our kids when they are leaving school with poor literacy and numeracy?' The teachers out there are doing a great job—they really are. You cannot say it is due to a lack of funding because they have been given the funding.

Many of the schools in Dobell, like those at Brook Avenue and The Entrance, have received a lot of money, which they are putting to use to give their kids an opportunity. They are great schools. Schools like Wyong Creek, Narara, Wyong High School and Wyong Public School, schools that had been written off by the Labor government, now have a member who is actually in the schools talking to them. The ALP hate that. They hate coalition members who are actually interested in education and interested in their local schools. Nothing gets Twitter or Facebook going like the ALP trolls when they see a coalition member in the schools doing a great job. They absolutely cannot stand it and they cannot cope with it.

But I come back to the truth—and the truth is in our actions. I repeat that we support needs based funding and better educational outcomes for our students. We do not politicise our children's future—

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

We do not. We do not go through the schools telling lies; we tell the truth—

Opposition members interjecting

We have not decreased the funding. We get complete denial by the ALP, by those opposite, and your union hacks who do all your dirty work for you and your union masters. You just cannot stand the truth and you are out there with all your lies.

At the end of the day, I have a commitment to the schools in Dobell. I will continue to work for them and ensure that they get the right funding they need to provide quality education for our future, for our children and for the kids in Dobell.


Tibor Majlath
Posted on 6 Feb 2016 6:43 pm (Report this comment)

The member claims that unions are lying, presumably about Gonski. She says Labor is misleading people over education funding. She wants them to tell the 'truth'. Hear! Hear!

Is Labor correct in claiming that the LNP slashed $30 billion in school funding? Only if one is playing with semantics. This hypothetical figure is the difference between future Labor funding and an estimate of the level of funding the LNP will apply based on the variable rate of inflation from 2018/19 with adjustments for school enrolment.

LNP members say that the government "provided record funding of some $69.5 billion over the forward estimates, including $5 billion in record funding for students with disabilities. From 2014 to 2015 education funding increased by some $4.1 billion, or 27.9 per cent. Under the coalition, funding to government schools has increased by 36.1 per cent and to non-government schools by 23.4 per cent".

Checking the 2015/16 budget paper "Part 2: Payments for Specific Purposes" shows the following projected funding over the "forward estimates" in billions as :-

2014/15 $14.664
2015/16 $15.743 +$1.079 +7.4%
2016/17 $17.012 +$1.269 +8.1%
2017/18 $18.031 +1.019 +5.99%
2018/19 $18.760 +0.729 +4.04%

Totals $69.546 +$4.096 +27.93% in funding from 2014-15

LNP members are correct in claiming that this is not cutting school funding. The LNP has increased funding over the forward estimates! These funding increases are at the top of the range of indexation doled out in recent times. But what LNP members leave out amids the back-slapping is that after 2018/19 there will be no such generous increases except against inflation with adjustments for school enrolment. Funding in real terms will be stuck near 2018/19 levels. What effect this will have on struggling schools and parents trying to keep up with costs rising above the CPI is uncertain.

It is a shame that name-calling and half-truths often pass for informed debates. Both sides only say enough to aid their own agenda. It is hard enough to understand the issues without politicians leaving out necessary information.