School Funding Election Promise Trashed By Abbott Government

Sharon Bird, Federal Member for Cunningham, and Stephen Jones, Federal Member for Throsby, were deeply disturbed by revelations in Senate Estimates yesterday which have confirmed that the Abbott Government has completely walked away from the Gonski reforms and funding commitments to schools.

Senator Carr: So they’re not committed to implement the previous agreements? School_Photo_gardening.jpg

Ms Paul (Education Department): That’s right.

“During the election campaign, Tony Abbott promised to honour the funding agreements to schools.  We now see more evidence that he was misleading the electorate,” Sharon Bird said.

“…we will honour the agreements that Labor has entered into. We will match the offers that Labor has made. We will make sure that no school is worse off.” (Tony Abbott, Doorstop, 2 August 2013)

When questioned in Estimates, Departmental officials admitted that the Education Minister Christopher Pyne has also written to states telling them they are free to cut their education budgets:

Mr Cook: so the Minister indicated in his letter and I think the Minister has also been public around this as well, Senator, an expectation that those three states maintain their efforts in terms of school funding.

Senator Carr: Now, what’s the nature of that commitment? It’s an expectation, but what’s the nature of any commitment from those signatory states or territory?

Ms Paul (Department of Education): the Minister has been clear that he’s not wanting to control the way states manage their own affairs in terms of how they deliver schools…

“The Gonski agreement is a once in a generation opportunity to get the funding of our schools right for all children.  Labor’s Gonski reforms brought together Federal and State governments, unions, teachers, students and the school communities in both private and public schools.  Everyone was in agreement on school funding.  This latest revelation has set school funding back decades,” Sharon Bird said.

“The Gonski Review was the biggest review in 40 years. We know what the solutions are but the Abbott Government is refusing to implement them,” Stephen Jones said. 

“Every student is entitled to a good education.  No matter what their background or where they come from, students should get equal treatment and equal resources.  The Gonski agreement ensured that students who need extra assistance, receive it,” Stephen Jones said.

27 February 2014