Monday, 2 May 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. Is it true that the same Prime Minister who last month advocated cutting all Commonwealth funding from public schools is now offering up a last-minute education election fix which still rips $29 billion out of our schools over the next decade?
Senator Dastyari, I am delighted to be able to tell you that Mr Turnbull and our colleague the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham, yesterday made a very important announcement in relation to schools funding, as a result of which this government is investing more money in schools than any Australian government has ever invested before. We are investing more money in Australian schools and Australian schoolchildren than any Australian government, coalition or Labor, has ever invested before—a record $73.6 billion over the next four years.
In 2016 there is $16 billion in school funding. By 2020, as a result of decisions by this government, there will be some $20 billion in school funding. The budget will include an additional $1.2 billion for schools over four years from 2017-18 that will allow for funding to meet increases in the real costs of schooling. There is more funding, and this funding will be allocated on the basis of need—for Indigenous students, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, students who need English-language assistance and those in regional and remote Australia. In fact, we have now committed an additional $118 million for students with a disability who are currently missing out on the support that they need. Funding should go where it is most needed. Needs based funding has always been a fundamental commitment of the coalition, a principle on which the Labor Party has been very late to the party.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to the six-page list of programs and support the New South Wales Primary Principals' Association has identified as at risk if Labor's school-funding policy is not implemented, including Aboriginal attendance programs, occupational therapy, literacy and numeracy programs and behaviour management experts. How many of these programs will be lost as a result of the Turnbull government's decision to rip $29 billion out of Australian classrooms over the next 10 years?
I have not seen the statement by the New South Wales Primary Principals' Association, and I wonder whether that statement was made before or since yesterday's announcement. But, in any event, I am sure that the New South Wales Primary Principals' Association would be delighted that this government, the Turnbull government, is investing more in schools funding than any Australian government has done ever, either Labor or coalition. I am sure the New South Wales Primary Principals' Association would be delighted that funding will be increasing over the next four years, from $16 billion this year to $20 billion in 2020. I am sure that New South Wales primary school principals will be delighted that the budget will include an additional $1.2 billion for schools over four years.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer to the New South Wales Minister for Education, Mr Piccoli, who says the Gonski funding has meant more professional development money for teachers and instructional leaders to improve teaching because 'every student is different'. How much less support will individual students receive in the classroom because the Turnbull government is ripping out $29 billion from our schools?
Senator Dastyari, that is simply not true. We are increasing funding to $20 billion over the next four years. There is no aspect of schooling and there are no services being provided to school students which need to be reduced, because our funding is increasing from $16 billion this year to $20 billion by 2020.
Senator Dastyari, you refer to the report by Mr David Gonski. Mr David Gonski's report was based on the principle of needs based funding—spending the money where it is most needed—and that is precisely the principle that underpinned the announcement made by the Prime Minister and Senator Birmingham yesterday. Let me just repeat it, Senator Dastyari, because you do not seem to be getting the message: we are spending more money on schools funding than any Australian government has ever spent.