Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Matters of Public Importance

Education Funding

4:14 pm

Photo of Fiona NashFiona Nash (NSW, National Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education) Share this | Hansard source

So yet another policy mess and policy shambles from the Labor government! It is a bit like Alvin and the Chipmunks as the hits just keep on coming. Every time we turn around there is another policy disaster from this government. We all want better outcomes for students, we all support better state schools and we all support better independent schools. In a better world we would all like to see funding increased for schools right across the board. But the world under this Labor government is not in that perfect place. Gonski is a mess. It is an absolute mess. When you start looking at why it becomes absolutely crystal clear that this government has absolutely no idea. There is absolutely no detail about how this is going to work, how this is going to be implemented and where the modelling is. We are completely in the dark.

My very good colleague Senator Mason was far too modest to actually quote himself when he was discussing the questioning that he had been doing in the previous Senate estimates. I am not so modest, because it is very important that we have this on the record. Senator Mason was asking the committee what the financial impact would be of the new modelling on Australian schools—a very sensible question. We then get an interchange between him and Ms Paul, the secretary:

Ms Paul: We do not really have any results to offer at this point—

and this is at the end of May, so this is a few weeks ago—

But if you want me to take it on notice and keep you posted on it, I am happy to do so.

Senator MASON: The department is not able to tell the committee what the financial impact of the proposed—

Ms Paul: That is right—not at this point. That is because of the work that is still underway, which was recognised by Gonski as being unfinished work, as it were.

Senator MASON: We should not labour the point, as it were, but that is where the rubber will hit the road, I think it is fair to say.

Ms Paul: Absolutely. I agree with you there.

Senator MASON: I was going to ask you to provide a breakdown of the financial impact under the proposed new modelling for all Australian schools,—

a very intelligent question—

but you have not done that. Are you going to do that?

It gets better:

Ms Paul: In due course, I suppose.

This is just a part of an excerpt of the answers to the very good questions that Senator Mason was asking. Just a few weeks ago that is all the detail that the coalition was able to get, and it goes on in much the same vein and it is certainly in Hansard for anyone to see. That is all we could get in terms of the detail of the modelling and how this is going to work. A $6.5 billion—well, who knows?—a year program and not a single scrap of detail from the government on how it is going to work! And how is the government going to pay for it? This is $6.5 billion a year we are expecting. How much are the feds going to pay? How much are they going to expect the states to pay? I expect that the government or the Prime Minister will say: 'This is wonderful. We're going to implement it now, states. Would you mind coughing up most of the money?' They will say, 'I haven't got it.' Look at New South Wales: they are floundering after 16 years of Labor in New South Wales and they are struggling with that legacy of debt that the Labor government left them. Where are they going to come up with the money from?


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