Senate debates

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Matters of Public Importance

Education Funding

4:40 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

They are going to hand over federal money to states that they call now non-participating states without any accountability mechanism to make sure that that money, that Australian taxpayers' money, is going to address those clearly identified needs. We just trust the states, they say. While they are trusting the states, we are already seeing that money is being pulled out by those states, which no longer have to account for what they are spending the money on that they receive from the federal government.

In contrast, we do have participating states, and I would like to address New South Wales because that is the state that I represent here in the parliament. I have to give ticks, not crosses, to Premier O'Farrell and the Minister for Education in New South Wales for signing up to a deal that is going to advantage the students of New South Wales, for signing up to a deal that means that they are willing to commit $1 of state funding for every $2 that they receive from the federal government, for signing up to a deal where they will be advancing plans and be accountable for responding to student need, to sign up to a plan where they will be accountable for the money they receive from the federal government in their determination to address educational inequality. How can it be that children in New South Wales have a government that could see this disadvantage and is now going to provide them with further opportunities, while students in the Northern Territory and Western Australia are going to have funding just ripped out of the bottom of the system and their disadvantage grow?

We talk about federalism, and I heard the interjection from a senator opposite. Federalism to me means that every Australian has a series of rights that are not different because you are born into the wrong state at the wrong time. Our vision, Labor's vision and the Gonski vision, was about equity that enhances the lives of Australians and improves our whole country in terms of its wellbeing and also its prosperity. (Time expired)


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