Senate debates

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Questions without Notice

Schools

2:43 pm

Photo of Malarndirri McCarthyMalarndirri McCarthy (NT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Can the minister confirm that under his education package, which his government's own documents state will result in a $22 billion cut to schools, schools in the Northern Territory, the most disadvantaged schools in the nation, will have their funding cut by $80 million over the next two years?

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

I am very happy to confirm that, in terms of schools in the Northern Territory, there will be clear funding growth. Across all schools in the Northern Territory, funding will grow from $348 million this year all the way up to $610 million by 2027. For government schools in the Northern Territory, that funding is forecast to grow from $191 million this year all the way up to $261 million by 2027. In relation to a per student figure in the Northern Territory, that is forecast to grow from around $8,360 per student in 2017 to around $11,870 per student on average by 2027.

These are all clear figures of growth. And, notably and correctly, the highest level of per-student funding in the country is currently for students in the Northern Territory and under these reforms will continue to be for students in the Northern Territory by a long, long margin. It is befitting, noting and reflecting the very particular needs in the Territory as a community with large numbers of Indigenous students, with large numbers of students facing particular issues of disadvantage, and with many schools operating in very remote areas with very small school numbers, that it receives the highest level of support in the nation on a per-student basis that continues to grow into the future and will be maintained as such.

2:45 pm

Photo of Malarndirri McCarthyMalarndirri McCarthy (NT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

How is it fair that, under the minister's education package, schools in the Northern Territory will see an $80 million cut, while Geelong Grammar will get a funding increase of $16 million?

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

I refer the senator to the answer I just provided, which details how it is that funding for schools in the Northern Territory grows each and every year into the future, how it is that it grows quite significantly. And, in terms per-student funding for the likes of Northern Territory students versus Grammar, as I said, funding for students in the Northern Territory is higher for students in government schools than for those in any other government system in the country, and for those in independent and Catholic system schools it is higher than for those in any other Catholic or independent system in the country, which is rightly reflective of the higher needs in the Northern Territory.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator McCarthy, a final supplementary question?

2:46 pm

Photo of Malarndirri McCarthyMalarndirri McCarthy (NT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Isn't it clear that the Australian Education Union is correct when it says that 'Turnbull's education cuts are a disaster for our kids'?

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

I think it was clear yesterday, as we saw the Australian Education Union start to fracture, with divisions coming from Western Australia, with their ridiculous scenario of the South Australian Education Union head coming out and saying, 'Actually, perhaps we should give this a go'—before, obviously, Senator Wong or others leant on them to make sure that they did not do so, that they backed down from that. But of course the former president of the Education Union went out strongly yesterday and spoke the truth and described it as a real opportunity to put in place funding reform, to put in place an equitable funding regime. They were the words of the former president of the Australian Education Union. That was somebody speaking clearly and honestly, arguing for needs based funding, and that is exactly what the Turnbull government is seeking to deliver.