Thursday, 22 June 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Given that under the minister's education package 85 per cent of public schools will not reach a fair level of funding within the decade, isn't it clear that he is selling a dud deal, an unfair deal, that will leave students in our most vulnerable communities worse off?
It is very clear that, under the Turnbull government's additional investment of at least $18.6 billion into schools across the country, indeed every public school across Australia will within a decade be funded by the Commonwealth under a needs based formula to exactly the same standard and level. That of course is the entire intent of the types of reforms that we are bringing forward: to make sure that the Gonski principles of needs based funding are applied consistently by the federal government across every government school right around the country regardless of differences from one state to another.
That is a really important element of this reform, because it is about ensuring that those senators from Western Australia, for example, do not end up continuing to get a dud deal relative to those senators and their constituents from the state of New South Wales, for example, which is what the Labor Party did. They signed different deals—27 different arrangements right across the country—and in doing so put in place a whole raft of inconsistencies, whereas what we are proposing is a steady transition that will ensure the same share of a needs based formula based on the Gonski recommendations is delivered to every state and territory across the country.
That is about delivering fairness and equity and indeed ensuring that those states and territories who have the primary responsibility in relation to funding of schools are then held to account, not able to continually shove it back onto the Commonwealth. It is about ensuring that those states are not able to take increased Commonwealth funding with one hand and pocket it with the other to ensure there is not additional support for schools. Where we are putting extra support in for schools, we will make sure extra support flows through into school systems, delivers additionality for school systems and is not just pocketed as a saving by a state or territory government. (Time expired)
Senator O'Neill interjecting—
Can the minister confirm that as a result of his education package, which aims to lock in cuts to schools of $22 billion, Tasmanian public schools will lose $68 million in the next two years alone?
Far from what the senator wants to imply, I am more than happy to confirm for her that Tasmanian public schools over the next two years, as she specifies, will see funding grow from $183 million estimated to be paid this year to $190 million estimated to be paid next year to $197 million estimated to be paid the year after, and that will keep growing to $261 million by 2027—clear strong growth in relation to Tasmanian government schools, enabling them to indeed meet, pretty much, the schooling resource standard. They do that because the Tasmanian coalition government or the Tasmanian Liberal government down there, led by Will Hodgman, actually invests in their school systems, which, together with what the Turnbull government is proposing, will get those school systems very close to receiving the full schooling resource standard, unlike, for example, the Victorian Labor government. (Time expired)
How is it fair that, while Tasmanian public schools will lose $68 million in the next two years, The Friends' School in Hobart will get a $19 million increase over the decade?
I just outlined for the senator how it is that Tasmanian government schools receive increased funding. What is remarkable is that all of these Labor senators come into this place and want to vote down a package, the result of which, if they were successful in defeating this, would be that many government systems around the country would actually receive less funding in the future. These people come in here with the hypocrisy ringing around, arguing as they do, trying to play the class-warfare arguments that they do, playing off one school versus another school, when what is clearly recognised in the public debate, what is clearly recognised by the experts, what has been clearly recognised by David Gonski and review panel members Ken Boston and Kathryn Greiner, is that the Turnbull government is applying fairly, consistently, the needs based funding formula for the future that will ensure there is appropriate support in all schools, hold states and territories accountable as well and deliver the support our children deserve. (Time expired)