Monday, 4 December 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Minister, on Saturday I was in a polling booth south of Inverell in a little town called Bundarra. The Labor volunteer handing out information was saying to the people coming in to vote: 'The coalition government has cut hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the Bundarra school funding.' I thank you, Minister, for the information you provided to me showing that this year Bundarra will get $464,000, going up to $703,000 within 10 years and extra funding going into that. Given that false, misleading porky pies are being spread by Labor, can the minister update the Senate on how the coalition government's fair, needs-based school funding will provide more funding to schools like Ryde Secondary College, Macquarie University Special Education Centre and St Gerard's Catholic Primary School, which is in the electorate of Bennelong?
I thank Senator Williams for his question and for his, I am sure, exemplary work at the Bundarra public school on Saturday, where I have no doubt that they would have been supporting Barnaby Joyce because of Senator Williams' advocacy. Senator Williams is right that those opposite will stoop to any level, any depth, in terms of the lies they will tell, the mistruths they will spread, and the scare campaigns they will run, on any level and on any issue, including school funding.
Senator Williams, thank you for highlighting the fact that funding goes up in Bundarra, as it does for schools right around Australia under our fairer, needs-based model that is more consistent with the recommendations that David Gonski handed down in his review a number of years ago now. Indeed, that flows through to the schools that Senator Williams has highlighted that happen to be in the electorate of Bennelong—where I am equally confident that the Labor Party will be out there spreading more lies and mistruths and scare campaigning. St Gerard's Catholic Primary School, as part of the Catholic education system in New South Wales, will see their funding grow from some $2 billion for that system next year up to some $2.9 billion by 2027—significant strong growth. Ryde Secondary College, a very large secondary school in the government system in New South Wales with 1,000 students, will see its funding grow from some $2.8 million in 2018 up to $4.3 million by 2027. Indeed, because it is a needs-based model, let's look at the Macquarie University Special Education Centre, a centre with 44 students of very high needs. Under the needs-based model, they, of course, see the strongest growth—from $900,000 up to $1.9 million or, in per student terms, support of some $40,000 per student that will be delivered. (Time expired)
I will say that that conning only got 44 people at Bundarra to vote Labor—so the lies simply did not work. Can the minister outline how the coalition government is providing record levels of funding for schools across New South Wales?
Right across New South Wales, our school funding model will deliver an increase of some $1.1 billion just over the forward estimates period. That's a 19.8 per cent—virtually a 20 per cent—increase in funding. It's geared most strongly towards those of highest need. As a consequence, we see funding growth is even faster in the government sector, running at some 23.6 per cent over the forward estimates period, while in the non-government sector there is still strong growth of around 17.3 per cent—growth well above inflation, well above projected wages growth, and growth that provides real, additional support into New South Wales schools. It stands in stark contrast to the work of Kristina Keneally: the Labor candidate in Bennelong and the former New South Wales Premier—who as Premier was happy to cut $318 million out of New South Wales schools. Sanctimonious, they are arguing for school funding, but their candidate, the former New South Wales Premier, was happy to rip money out of their schools.
I thank the minister for doing a magnificent job in the school funding area. Can the minister advise how the coalition government's reforms will ensure that this growing level of funding is used to improve student outcomes?
Having more funding is good, and ensuring that it's delivered according to need is important, but what you do with it is what matters most: ensuring that students get the quality educational experience that they deserve—that every student has the opportunity to succeed. As a government, we've already proudly delivered on reforms to initial teacher education, initiatives to try to lift the uptake of foreign languages, to support basic literacy and numeracy skills, and to develop and enhance students in the STEM disciplines—the rich and complex areas that are critical to people's future employment prospects. So, across the board, we've pursued initiatives to date, but we will build on those, particularly with the work that David Gonski has done and that the current review to achieve educational excellence in Australian schools is undertaking. We will make sure that every dollar delivers the best possible outcomes for Australian students, because that's what they deserve to get the best start in their lives.