Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told David Koch that his party aims to fulfil Gonski’s vision with the Government’s plan to lift education spending by $19 billion. Courtesy: Sunrise
MALCOLM Turnbull’s $18.6 billion schools funding shake-up is likely to sail through Parliament thanks to the Greens, who say it’s time to end the political “argy-bargy”.
Labor has vowed to fight what it has dubbed a $22 billion cut to Australian schools.
But the Australian Greens have signalled they will support the new needs-based model, announced yesterday, to end the schools funding war that Labor and the Liberals have waged for the better part of a decade.
“We want a genuine conversation and a way forward that stops this argy-bargy,” Greens Education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“We keep going to it every election campaign, saying Labor is going to put more money in, Liberals are going to rip more money out — we are never going to get to a point where our schools and our kids and our parents can rely on a public system that is well funded,” she said.
“Stop playing with the lives of our kids.”
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the party would examine the detail of the proposal but if it meant only a few wealthy schools “don’t have the means to buy another set of tennis courts or rowing sheds” then “so be it”.
With a majority in the lower house and the Greens’ support in the upper house, the Coalition Government would need only one crossbench Senator to support the changes to pass the legislation.
The Prime Minister has confirmed the legislation will go before the Parliament over the next month.
Under the new model, which will transition Commonwealth funding for public and private schools to David Gonski’s needs-based model, 353 schools will receive less federal funding from 2018 to 2027 than they were expecting.
More than 9000 schools across the nation will receive a funding boost however.
The Turnbull Government expects only 24 schools will have a real reduction in funding and has signalled they are likely to be “overfunded” non-government schools.
It’s believed Loreto Kirribili and Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College in NSW and St Paul’s College and Melbourne Grammar School in Victoria will be among those that will receive less funding.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said an online calculator would be available in the next few days which would allow anyone to see what the new funding model meant for their school.
Details of how individual schools’ funding would change would not be released until the Education Department had spoken to the 24 schools that would lose money.
“The impact on them is incredibly modest in most instances, sometimes as little an impact as $1 or $2 per student,” he said.
SCHOOLS PLAN IS ‘FULLY FUNDED’
The Opposition came out swinging again today despite the Turnbull Government adopting the heart of the proposed Gonski reforms Labor has been pushing for.
Shadow Education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek slammed the proposed changes as a $22 billion “cut” to schools funding.
“It is extraordinary that this Government is taking Mr David Gonski out and using his trusted brand to sell this inferior product,” Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney.
“This education funding cut announcement is the new Coke of education announcements.
“This is taking a trusted brand and using that to cover up an inferior product, a product that no Australian parent will buy.”
When pushed on ABC radio this morning, Ms Plibersek clarified it was a $22 billion cut based on what Labor had pledged to pour into schools.
She said the “cut” was equivalent to sacking 22,000 teachers over the decade and taking $2.4 million from every school across Australia.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten labelled Malcolm Turnbull a “snake oil salesman”.
“We will fight this all the way,” he said.
Mr Turnbull laughed off the criticism, claiming it would take 150 years under Labor’s plan for the schools’ funding to reach the same levels of fairness and consistency.
He was confident the proposed model would appeal to the “majority of senators”.
“We will be working hard to persuade all senators, including the Labor Party and the Greens and crossbenchers, to support it,” Mr Turnbull said.
Earlier, the Prime Minister told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program the Coalition’s plan for schools was “fully funded” while Labor’s former proposal was not.
“The Labor Party never had the money,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Colin Barnett, the West Australian Premier at the time, said at the time it was obvious they didn’t have the money, it was Monopoly money.
“What we are proposing here, what we are setting out is fully funded.
“It is consistent and fair, this is the Gonski vision.”
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WARN OF FEE INCREASES
Education Minister Simon Birmingham this morning rejected suggestions Catholic schools were being unfairly singled out in the funding overhaul.
Catholic schools responded angrily to the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday that Australian schools would get an $18.6 billion funding boost over the next decade but about 4 per cent of schools would receive a reduction in Commonwealth funding.
The National Catholic Education Commission quickly warned families could expect fee increases from the funding changes.
It also slammed the Government for not consulting with the sector about the changes.
Speaking on ABC radio this morning, Minister Birmingham said Catholic schools were not being singled out under the new model.
“Everybody is being treated under a consistent funding model,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Non-government schools, whatever their faith, whatever their background will be treated in exactly the same way.
“Catholic schools will receive over the next four years estimated growth in funding of $1.2 billion or around 3.7 per cent per student.
“That contrasts with government schools that will receive funding growth of about $2.2 billion or 5.2 per cent per student and independent schools receiving funding growth of $1.4 billion or about 4.2 per cent per student.
“Because of all the inconsistencies in current funding deals everyone is starting at a different point — over ten years we want to transition them to the same end point of consistency but there is absolutely real growth in funding for Catholic Education and small parish schools in this model.”
Senator Birmingham also rejected suggestions the Turnbull Government had backflipped on its funding stance after months of saying more money was not the solution to Australia’s declining standing in international rankings.
“More money in and of itself is not the answer but more money will help us to fix a broken model of funding that has so many inconsistencies and is riddled with differential treatment for sectors and special groups in different states,” he said.
He said a second report by David Gonski would focus on how Australia could turn around schools and “make sure that declining international performance in literacy, numeracy, maths and science is actually addressed and fixed for the future”.