House debates

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Constituency Statements

Education Funding

10:49 am

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to congratulate St Pius X in Windale on their absolutely fantastic NAPLAN results. In the category of schools they are in, their year 3 students came first in the whole of Australia in reading, grammar, punctuation and mathematics, and second in writing and spelling. Their year 5 also excelled, coming first nationally in writing, spelling and mathematics, second in reading, and third in grammar and punctuation. I can't emphasise enough how truly remarkable these results are. St Pius is a very special school. The school and community at Windale face some very severe socioeconomic challenges. It's a small school of 50 students, with 57 per cent of the students being Indigenous. Windale is the poorest town in all of New South Wales. So for St Pius to have these results is an absolutely fantastic achievement.

Because of the needs based funding reforms that Labor put in place, the Catholic Schools Office has been able to allocate significant resources and has employed two extra teachers in this school of only 50 students. This is paying off right now. We can all appreciate the dramatically positive impact these additional staff are having in the school, and the life-changing impact on the children. This is what needs based funding looks like. I spoke to one of the additional teachers at an Anzac Day service earlier this year. She was adamant that having the extra teaching staff has been so helpful to the students and has contributed directly to the NAPLAN results.

Recognising the achievements of St Pius is a special occasion. I don't want to be overly negative but it would be remiss not to remind the House that this government is failing the needs based funding challenge. Yes, this is a political statement, but I have the privilege of representing Windale and the students and families of St Pius in the Commonwealth parliament and I must stand up and make sure they get the resources they need to achieve everything they can in life.

The current Prime Minister should visit St Pius and explain to the students and their families, some of whom come from really modest backgrounds, why he doesn't think they deserve these extra resources. He might explain the theory behind his radical right-wing neoliberal agenda and the economic and social outcomes he expects to achieve with his massive cuts to education. The Liberals are cutting a massive $17 billion from schools. Public schools bear the brunt of these cuts with 86 per cent, Catholic schools with 12 per cent, and independents with two per cent.

Over the next two years, we will see $17 million cut from my local schools. These aren't Labor figures. These are PBO and National Catholic Education Commission figures. At the same time, this government is giving $80 billion in tax cuts to the big end of town. There will be a clear choice at the next election: adequate funding for schools like St Pius X at Windale so their students can achieve the best in life, or more tax cuts for the top end of town.


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