Monday, 2 May 2016
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Lindgren, a former high school teacher, for her question and her passionate interest in this portfolio area. I am very pleased to address the question about the new Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes plan, which the Turnbull government released yesterday. As Senator Brandis has already informed the chamber, this plan will take school funding from a current record level of around $16 billion in 2016 and grow that level of school funding each and every year into the future to a level of an estimated $20.1 billion in 2020—strong growth but affordable growth, growth that we are comfortable as a government and confident as a government that we can pay for without, unlike those opposite, increasing the level of taxation on all Australians.
Importantly, it is growing levels of school funding which we are committed to distributing according to need to ensure that those in low socioeconomic areas, those students with disability, those Indigenous students and those students who may be in rural or remote areas receive additional support out of the funding that is available, not just the funding available from the Commonwealth but, importantly, the funding available from states and territories as well.
But we know full well, as I have told this Senate before, that funding is important, but what you do with funding matters even more.
No, Senator Wong, money does matter, but what you do with it matters even more. How you use it effectively matters even more. The Labor Party seem to think they can spray cash around and pray for the best. What we have outlined is a detailed plan for school reform that will ensure quality outcomes in our schools, not just more money being spent. (Time expired)
In addition to the additional $1.2 billion of long-term school funding that we announced yesterday, we are also delivering in this year's budget additional support for students with a disability to the tune of $118 million in extra funding for this school year—2016—and next year, in 2017.
This will be the first-ever funding that is allocated and informed by the nationally-consistent collection of data on students with a disability. It will be the first time ever that we are distributing funding according to this model that identifies students and their particular level of adjustment. It takes our support for students with a disability to a record level of $5.3 billion over the period 2014 to 2017, far exceeding the previous government's unfunded promises. It is actually using the data collection methodology that is there, but we will also make sure that we increase the robustness of that methodology so that it can truly drive funding for students with a disability from new formulas from 2018 onwards.
Yes, I am aware of alternative policies when it comes to spending and taxing, but I am not aware of any alternative policies when it comes to actual quality reforms in our schools.
The Turnbull government has a commitment to make sure we actually drive reform in our schools that ensures better identification of young children in terms of their reading capacity and higher ambition in terms of the study of maths and science at year 12, and that we actually drive reform to keep our best, most able and most capable teachers in our schools. These are the types of reforms we are committed to.
Those opposite only want to talk about how much they are going to spend! They are only interested in the amount of money being thrown around. In the nearly 2½ thousand words they have uttered—Mr Shorten, Ms Ellis and others—since yesterday's announcement, they have talked about funding, spending money and dollars around 25 times: once every 100 words. And yet they have mentioned the word 'quality' just once! Just once! Quality is what matters in our schools, and real reforms will drive quality outcomes. (Time expired)