Joanne Ryan MP
Federal Member for Lalor
Joanne Ryan MP

Education Funding PMB

I move this motion because we on this side will not cede to those opposite and their winding back the notion of commitment to education, winding back hard work, developed over a long-term review, to create equity in our school education system.We are in the last two weeks of parliament for this year, and for me it is critical that, prior to the school term ending, I raise again the issue of the cuts, the dramatic cuts, that this government has made to education. The dramatic cuts that we saw in the 2014 budget were the biggest ever cut to schools, leaving classrooms across the country $30 billion worse off over the next decade.

We all remember broken promises—there has been a lot of talk this week about one broken promise about the ABC. I remember, very clearly, several promises that were made before the election that gave us a Liberal government. I remember promises from our Prime Minister Abbott and from Minister Pyne—promises that there would be no cuts to schools and promises that there would be a unity ticket on education. These promises were made after enormous publicity about the Gonski review and the Gonski reforms that were being implemented by the previous Labor government. They promised a unity ticket. Prime Minister Abbott said clearly, 'Your school will get the same.' Well, it is a broken promise, because that is not what is happening on the ground across the states in this nation. They said they were committed to the Gonski funding for six years, and the first thing they did on getting into government was say, 'Oh, sorry; we meant four years.' You did not mean four years; you meant six years. It was a clear promise to every family in this country that you were as committed as the previous Labor government to making sure that every child in this country got the best education they could have. You made a clear promise that you believed in equity. You made a clear promise that you believed in fairness and would support fairness in our school system, and then we got to the budget and you ripped $30 billion out of education across this nation—$30 billion. And you did this by indexing education funding to the CPI from 2018—no mention of that prior to the election. This is a clear broken promise.

You cut the strings to the states. You cut Gonski in half. You clearly said to the states at that point that the Gonski plan was that we would make a contribution and the states would commit to increasing their funding model from their coffers, joined with the national coffers, and we would go forward to the best education system in the world. We would go forward to equity. But what did you do? The first thing you did when you came into government was cut those strings and let the states off the hook. So your actions say that you do not believe that education is important—that you do not understand how fundamentally important education is for the prosperity of this nation going forward. An educated population will give us the economic advantage going forward. You have shown that you are not committed to that, that you are not committed to needs-based funding and that you are not committed to ensuring disability funding in our schools. These are the things that we are very, very clear on.

I know, because in Victoria it is school awards season, and I am sure parliamentarians across the country are in their schools giving out awards and being invited to graduation nights for grade 6s and year 12s. I know that what I am hearing in Victoria and what I am seeing on the ground is that, under a Napthine Liberal government, there is no transparency. Principals do not know where their Gonski money is. It is their first question. 'Joanne, where is the Gonski money?' they ask in Victoria, because they cannot see it.

Then we go to Queensland, and we show that, a week after the budget, analysis in Queensland showed that, over the period 2014-15 to 2024-25, there will be approximately $6 billion less funding available for Queensland schools under the new arrangement with the Abbott government. Approximately $2.7 billion less funding will be available for the Queensland government school sector. (Time expired)


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