Monday, 2 May 2016
Private Members' Business
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) the Government has:
(i) implemented the biggest ever cut to Australian schools, ripping $30 billion out of our classrooms over the next decade; and
(ii) failed to fund the vital fifth and sixth years of the Gonski reforms, locking Australian students into inequality and an uncertain future; and
(b) Labor’s Your Child. Our Future plan:
(i) for Australian schools will ensure that every student in every school has the resources they need to achieve their best; and
(ii) will reverse the Government’s cuts and fund the needs based Gonski reforms on time and in full—a $4.5 billion commitment in 2018 and 2019 alone;
(2) acknowledges the hard work and dedication of educators and teaching staff around the country, and the need to support them to meet their students’ needs; and
(3) calls on the Government to use the budget to reverse their school cuts, fund the Gonski reforms on time and in full, and adopt Labor’s Your Child. Our Future plan, so that every student can reach their potential.
I rise today on what is an incredibly disappointing day for everyone who works in education and every parent in this country, who were giving this government an opportunity to fulfil the promise they made before the 2013 election. I know where I was when I heard the member for Warringah, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, make the promise that there would be no cuts to education. I remember distinctly where I was when he and then shadow minister Pyne made the promise that no matter what school your child went to, they would get the same money under a Liberal government. They promised that they were on a unity ticket. I know where I was. I remember the exact moment. I also remember exactly what I thought. What I thought was, 'That's a lie.' I still know that that was a lie, because in 2½ years they have done nothing but make excuses for not fulfilling that promise.
They have done nothing, and then, at the death knell, in the last sitting week of the 44th Parliament, they make an announcement of $1.2 billion, which is far from year 5 and 6 of Gonski, far from what they promised at the 2013 election and far from what a Shorten-led Labor government will deliver to this country after the next election.
On this side of the House, we understand the transformative nature of education. We understand that there is no innovation without education. We understand that education needs to be resourced appropriately. We understand the difference that a national focus, backed up by the resources that classroom teachers need, will make to our children's lives, to our children's futures and to the future prosperity of this country. Labor understand this. We understand that we will be a prosperous nation if we have equity in our education system, and that is what Labor will deliver—unlike those opposite.
This morning we have had the Prime Minister say that this is more than a usual budget and that the end of this term of government is setting out a new agenda. What a joke! It is not a new agenda; it is a very old agenda. It enshrines privilege where it already exists and denies all Australian children access to the kind of education that they need to build a strong economy for the future. This government is true to its ideology. Its ideology says that those who already have will have more and those who have less will have less. That is what this government is about. Their announcement in education today confirmed it.
Unlike those opposite, a Labor government has made a commitment for years 5 and 6 of Gonski funding. That is the sector-blind needs based funding that we know this country needs. There is no question about the broad based review that was done, led by David Gonski. There is no question about the findings of that review and what they would deliver to this country. No-one questions it except those opposite, who have slammed shut funding for schools in this country and stand behind a Prime Minister who most recently suggested that we would just pull away—walk away—from state school funding and revert to the Howard-era funding, where private schools see Commonwealth dollars but state schools do not.
This government cannot be taken seriously on education; this government is a joke when it comes to education. We have heard the Minister for Education out doing television all morning, telling us how wonderful this is and—the best part for me—how Labor were going to just let the states do whatever they liked with the funding. That is a misrepresentation of the facts. There was only one minister who cut the strings on the states while he changed the funding arrangements.