Senate debates

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Matters of Public Importance

Education Funding

4:33 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

It would seem that both the Greens and Labor have a complete tin ear when it comes to the evidence that we have heard on the subject of this MPI—educational inequality and needs based funding—in the Senate Select Committee on School Funding. Labor and Greens speakers here today sit on that inquiry. We have heard from the department, the Catholic school system, the independent school system and the AEU, and the evidence that we have been given has made it very, very clear that the claims by Senator Wright that there are no needs based funding models are completely erroneous. State governments have needs based funding models. We have heard from the Catholic Education Commission. Their model distributes money from within their system appropriate to needs, to Indigeneity, rural and regional, disability et cetera. Loadings apply from within each system to ensure that funding flows where it is needed. So to say that there is no such thing as a needs based funding model in existence in our nation at the present time ignores what is actually going on in state education systems. In fact, from the evidence we were given last week, the only sector operating under the failed Gonski—'I've walked away from my own model'—system is the independent schools sector. They are the only ones operating under that model, and they do not like it.

Another claim made in the debate today is that those of us on this side of the chamber do not think money matters in education. That is just ridiculous. Of course it matters.

Senator Wright interjecting—

Senator Wright, I hear you badgering me from the side, but of course it matters. But the reality is: it is a case of diminishing returns. In a constrained fiscal environment, we need to make sure that we get the biggest bang for our buck. Again, that comes from the evidence, but I will go into that later. We have heard that on this side of the chamber we just want to throw blank cheques at education. Could there be any greater and more failed experiment in throwing blank cheques at education than Building the Education Revolution and the $16.2 billion that was wasted?

Senator Wright interjecting—


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