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Standing Committee on Education and Employment
Australian Education Bill 2012
House of Reps
- Parl No.
- Committee Name
Standing Committee on Education and Employment
Ramsey, Rowan, MP
O'Neill, Deb, MP
Hawke, Alex, MP
Symon, Mike, MP
Andrews, Karen, MP
Tudge, Alan, MP
- System Id
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Standing Committee on Education and Employment
(House of Reps-Tuesday, 19 February 2013)
CHAIR (Ms Rishworth)
- Mr HAWKE
Content WindowStanding Committee on Education and Employment - 19/02/2013 - Australian Education Bill 2012
DANIELS, Mr William Laurence, Executive Director, Independent Schools Council of Australia
NEWCOMBE, Dr Geoff, Executive Director, Association of Independent Schools, NSW
ROBERTSON, Mr David Harold, Executive Director, Independent Schools Queensland and Independent Schools Council of Australia
WALLETT, Mr Barry, Deputy Executive Director, Independent Schools Council of Australia
CHAIR: Good morning and welcome. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, you should be advised that this is a legal proceeding of the parliament and therefore has the same standing as the respective houses. Thank you for your submission. I will invite you to make an opening statement and then we can proceed to questions.
Mr Daniels : The Independent Schools Council of Australia is the peak national body covering the independent schools sector. Through our state and territory associations, ISCA represents some 1,090 schools with 550,000 students. We welcome this opportunity to discuss with the committee the issues raised in our submission to the inquiry. As the committee would be well aware, all discussions with the government regarding future funding arrangements for schools have been conducted under strict COAG confidentiality arrangements. These confidentiality arrangements have limited the scope for full discussion of the impact of the proposed funding arrangements in our submission to the committee and with the independent sector more broadly. We have been active participants in consultations with the government regarding future arrangements for schools from the inception of the review of funding for schooling almost three years ago. ISCA was heavily engaged with the Gonski review process, submitting numerous major submissions and meeting with the Gonski review on many occasions.
It should be acknowledged that the Gonski panel was handed an extremely difficult task, and that is to find a solution to the funding of both government and nongovernment schools. Government and nongovernment schools are funded and governed in entirely different ways. Parents are other largest contributors to the funding of independent schools, unlike government schools where virtually all funding comes from governments. The majority of independent schools are set up and governed independently on individual school basis. This is in sharp contrast with government and Catholic systemic schools which are managed centrally by an education authority. Many commentators and politicians have been simplistic in their analysis of the outcomes of the funding review and the Gonski recommendations. There seems to be an unquestioning acceptance of the line that the same model will be used for all schools and any funding outcomes are purely the result of the application of the Gonski recommendations. It needs to be understood that decisions regarding the targeting of additional funding under the model have been based on political imperatives, in particular in response to building pressure on the Australian government to be seen to be increasing funding to government schools and to ensure that the quantum of funding available to states and territories is sufficient to secure the agreement of the premiers at COAG. It is apparent that the settings of the model are attempting to ensure that this outcome is achieved.
There is also a broad acceptance of the rhetoric that all schools in Australia will be funded according to the model. The reality is that very few Australian schools will be funded according to the model. All system authorities, both state and territory governments and Catholic systems will continue to redistribute funds according to their own funding priorities. The only schools in Australia that will be funded according to the model will be around 900 schools in the independent sector that are nonsystemic. It is for this reason that sector wide analysis of funding additionality, while relevant for system authorities, is not useful for independent schools. The independent sector needs to analyse the impact of proposed changes to funding arrangements at the level of the individual school.
The ISCA team would be very happy to discuss ISCA's submission further and clarify any of the issues that the committee may have. The people sitting with me are all members of the so-called negotiation team who will continue to meet government officials on a regular basis.
CHAIR: Thank you very much for your presentation. I have a couple of questions but will respect your confidentiality agreement with the government. The bill outlines a model that has a school standard resource with loadings. Is this change in model preferable to the current system of school funding in your opinion?
Mr Daniels : The current proposal is the third or fourth attempt by the Commonwealth government over the period of 40 years to come up with a funding model that works better than a previous model. There is a huge difference between what is proposed now and the system that is currently in place. The system that is currently in place from the Commonwealth perspective is essentially a mechanism for funding non-government schools. What is proposed is a mechanism for funding all schools in Australia. Answering your question is quite difficult because it assumes that the theory of the model will actually be applied. I think there is very little evidence that the theory of the model will actually be applied and system authorities, whether they be state governments or other systems within the non-government sector, will insist on their capacity to direct resources as they see fit.
CHAIR: In terms of the focus on equity in the bill—and there is a focus with the concept of the loadings—do you think that is a fair aim for the bill to have in it?
Mr Daniels : ISCA believes at the highest level that the propositions proposed by the Gonski review panel are perfectly reasonable, sensible propositions—that is, a base funding and loadings to address disadvantage. We have no difficulty with that as a concept. The difficulty comes when you actually have to deliver this on the ground. It assumes that there is sophisticated data to support a model and that the data is robust and able to be applied in a stable, sensible manner to schools. We just do not believe that we are anywhere near that.
CHAIR: Are you advocating to keep the school funding as it currently is and, if you are advocating that, are there some concerns about the AGSRC indexation as a result of many state governments having cut funds and the flow on impact that that could have?
Mr Daniels : We are not advocating for a continuation of the current arrangements because the negotiations on what is before us are continuing and we do not know where the government is leading us. Certainly based on what we currently know, we would not support the application of the model as per the current settings. However, as I said, the negotiations are continuing and we do not know how far the settings will change.
In relation to indexation and the use of AGSRC, average government school recurrent costs, as an index, AGSRC has moved up and down for years and years and years; this is a mechanism that was actually put in place by a Labor government in the mid-1980s, and it has worked to the benefit of, I think, most schools over a period of about 30 years. So there are swings and roundabouts. Obviously all managers, all governors, of schools would like to be in a situation of knowing with certainty what funding would be year by year. The AGSRC fluctuations do have that element of uncertainty.
Mr Robertson : Chair, if I could just add in terms of your question, one of the considerations at an individual school level is that issue of certainty. I have heard other speakers talk about it. The current funding arrangements, the SES funding arrangements, expire in 10 months time. Schools are looking for what their funding arrangements are going to be in 2014. They need to know those for financial planning. They are starting to do budgets for next year, so clearly that whole question about the current model versus the proposed Gonski model is tied up in that issue and we need some decisions very quickly.
Mr RAMSEY: Gentlemen, I am sure you are aware of press reports this morning emanating from the New South Wales Minister for Education, talking about a number of schools that may be overfunded under the current proposed models. Catholic ed told us on Friday that there were 16 different variations of model they were looking at. You are one of the rarefied groups to come before this inquiry, in that you have some inner knowledge of the workings of those negotiations. If the New South Wales government is saying that 878 New South Wales schools are overfunded, could you give us some idea, under the current negotiations you are dealing with, of how accurate that number might be and what it might be Australia wide?
Mr Daniels : I did see the reference by the National Catholic Education Commission to 16 models. We have not been counting, but this process has been an iterative process that has been going on for 12 months. It could be 30, for all I know, and I do not see them as proposals; they are simply alternative settings that are put on the table and discussed. To this day, not a single setting has been agreed on for any of the loadings or any of the 'capacity to contribute' settings. That is the first point.
I did see the New South Wales government's reference to 800 schools. We do not have access to New South Wales government data. We have access to independent school data. In relation to the independent sector, in our submission, on page 25, we have said that the current proposed funding arrangements result in around double the numbers of independent school sitting outside the funding model than the current funding arrangements. Under the current funding arrangements, 183 independent schools are funding maintained, if you define that as sitting outside the model.
Mr RAMSEY: Do you have any idea of what that transition period would be? They are talking about as long as 80 years for some schools in Australia, which would suggest that they are going to get decreased funding by some mechanism, by the loss through CPI over that period, until they are brought down to the common level.
Mr Daniels : I have not seen their calculations, but I am assuming that some assumptions have been made about the rate of indexation for schools which I could crudely term 'winners' as opposed to 'losers', or schools sitting inside the model or outside the model. So there would be some assumptions in that. We have had a look at some independent schools which would sit a long way outside the model settings. I do not think I could get up to 80 years, but that depends on what sorts of assumptions you make. But it would be many, many, many years for quite a lot of schools in the independent sector before they transitioned into the technical sort of fit, if you like, of the model.
Mr RAMSEY: Considering the Prime Minister's commitment that no school should lose a dollar in funding, but expressly has not talked about CPI, is protection against inflation an active part of the discussion?
Mr Daniels : There has been discussion about the rates of indexation, but frankly I do not believe I am in a position to divulge the details of that.
Dr Newcombe : Perhaps, Mr Ramsey, you would be interested—given that I represent the independent schools of New South Wales—in how they would be affected under the current settings. Under the current settings, about 40 per cent of independent schools in New South Wales—or about 60 per cent of enrolments—would be classified as losers under the current settings of the Gonski model. That would mean that they would lose funding in real terms. Of that 40 per cent, half are appropriately funded under the current model, so they are not 'funding maintained'—the term being used. What that means is that these schools will now be told that they have been overfunded for the last 10 years—because they sit outside model. Before I continue, I think it is important that I reaffirm Bill's comment that we are in discussion with the government about changing these settings—so my comments are based on the current settings we are dealing with. But I think the more disturbing thing about this 40 per cent of independent schools is the fact that one-third of them serve what we would call low or very low socio-economic areas—schools in, say, the south-west and Western Sydney. It is many of these schools which will lose money under the current settings of the Gonski model.
Ms O'NEILL: I would just like to clarify something. When you are talking about 'the current settings'—this is not actually happening in real terms in any school at this point in time?
Dr Newcombe : What we are dealing with is the 2011 financial data, the My School data. That is the current data. We have had the iterative process. We started with the 2009 data, then we moved to the 2010 data. Each time we moved, things got worse for the independent sector. Now we are dealing with the 2011 data and the settings are based on that data.
Mr Robertson : When we talk about 'the current settings', these relate to the settings the Australian government has proposed in their response to Gonski. Obviously the settings are up for negotiation and are part of the discussions which have been referred to. We need a base to measure what would happen if the model were implemented as it is proposed currently.
Ms O'NEILL: We have had a few parents in here talking about it. There was a great comment yesterday by Jane Caro that, at a certain point, complexity becomes fraud—I think that was the word she finished with. The complexity of the things you are talking about here is something I want to drill down into. Just to be clear: when you say 'current settings', we are not talking about something which is really happening in terms of funding for people. We are talking about a model which is open to the public and which is currently being negotiated.
Mr Robertson : No, as Bill indicated, these discussions about the settings of the model are taking place under a COAG confidentiality agreement. So it is not public information.
Mr Daniels : Not only is it not public information, but, of the 1,100 independent schools in Australia, none know what the settings which have been proposed to date are—none of them.
Ms O'NEILL: But, as the representative body, you do know that and you are participating in those negotiations at the highest level.
Mr Daniels : That is correct. But, at the end of the day, the authority for independent schools is the independent schools themselves. Each independent school will make up its mind whether the settings—whatever the final settings are—are appropriate or not.
Ms O'NEILL: You are doing very hard work on their behalf, I am sure.
Mr Daniels : Yes, we hope so.
Ms O'NEILL: I have a question about your submission. The Prime Minister made a statement that the nation's support for children's education is an entitlement of citizenship. Is that something you would recommend be added as an amendment to the bill? If so, why—and what sorts of terms would you propose?
Mr Daniels : The short answer is yes, we think it should be added to the bill. Why? Because it was a very significant statement from the Prime Minister and, given the nature of the preamble, it is such a significant statement that it would fit neatly within the context of the preamble.
Mr HAWKE: Dr Newcombe, you used some statistics like 60 per cent, and a third. You are just talking about New South Wales. How many schools are you saying would be worse off under this model?
Dr Newcombe : There are around 440 independent schools in New South Wales, and so what we are saying is that 40 per cent of that number will be worse off. Some of those are large schools and they are not necessarily the high SES schools. Some of the large schools are in the south-west of Sydney and Western Sydney. If you look at enrolments as opposed to the number of schools, about 60 per cent of children in independent schools in New South Wales will lose funding under the current settings of the Gonski model.
Mr HAWKE: I am very interested in Western Sydney, obviously, because I am from Sydney. Are you finding the same sort of results nationally?
Mr Daniels : The settings change very regularly. Our submission was written on the basis of the settings that were available to us on the day we lodged the submission. There have been discussions since that time. I cannot really answer what has changed because no firm proposition has been put to us which you would say is a government proposal. The experience in New South Wales would translate roughly nationally, but it would fall differentially. In some states there would be no losers.
Mr HAWKE: That is good to hear. Under these 30 scenarios, is there any scenario that you are satisfied with that would provide no losers in your sector?
Mr Daniels : This is a really complicated model. Arriving at a school resource standard is probably the simplest aspect of it—so actually coming with the dollar amount to derive a standard for primary and secondary students is a relatively simple exercise. Where the complexity comes is in the loadings. But, more importantly, it is a straight political decision by the government of the day and has been in the past as to where the parameters of the capacity-to-contribute line start and finish and what the shape of that line is. That ultimately will determine whether schools that are largely funded by parents will be over- or under-funded according to the model. That is a straight political decision.
Mr HAWKE: I get that. Dr Newcombe. if this funding model were to proceed, what would happen to the schools, this 40 per cent in New South Wales?
Dr Newcombe : I am thinking of one school with an SES of 91, so it is a very low socioeconomic area. It only charges fees of between $1,000 and $2,000 per student—so parents struggle there, but the school has well over 1,000 children. It would lose almost $1,000 per student under this model. That school would find it extremely difficult to offer the same quality of education service that it does now. I do not believe it would be able to increase its school fees, because that community just cannot pay any more. It is getting excellent results—in fact our minister was out there not that long ago having a look at it and speaking very highly of it—but the educational service would have to reduce because there is nowhere else to get the money from.
Mr Robertson : One of the features of the proposed Gonski model is a lot of different variables, particularly around loadings. Because they are based on individual student characteristics, if you change one parameter it can have quite significant impacts on individual independent school outcomes. Again, in terms of state government schools, Catholic systemic schools, you are talking about a total pool of money and you do not see the sensitivities around individual schools and the impact that changes in parameters might have on an individual school. That is one of the complexities of the model and it is what makes it difficult to get to a point where people will say, 'This is the final model.'
Mr SYMON: I might ask some non-hypothetical questions, because we can talk about future models all day and we will keep hearing what people think of them. I would like to go page 14 of your submission and something that has come up in a previous hearing. In section 6 of the bill, Developing a national plan, there is reference to non-government education authorities but not to individual independent schools, and I note you have written about that in your submission. Why is it important that every individual independent school is included and what is the best way to be able to do that?
Mr Daniels : Independent schools, by definition and by governance, are independent. While they have organisations like my own organisation or the state based organisations or other organisations that they voluntarily join to represent their interests or to pursue particular interests, at the end of the day the responsibility and the governance of an independent school rests at the individual independent school level—that is what they are. So none of us are in a position or ever will be in a position to sign off or sign documents, on behalf of those schools, that impact on the governance of those schools. At the end of the day, the government will need to engage with 1,100 independent schools and to argue the benefits or otherwise of the National Plan for School Improvement, and those schools will ultimately make up their own mind as to whether they think this is a good idea or a bad idea.
Mr SYMON: I can imagine it is going to be an enormous task.
Mr Robertson : That is no different to the current arrangements. Each individual independent school signs an individual funding agreement with the Australian government which has certain conditions in it which would be similar to a national school improvement plan in a lot of cases. So that is no different to what is happening currently.
Mr Daniels : And it is no different to what has happened in the last 40 years. The Australian government has had direct relationships with independent schools and we strongly support those direct relationships.
Mr SYMON: Okay. Moving on, though I suppose this is in the same area, I have a question about the payment of loadings. Again I note in your submission an opposition to them being paid direct to individual schools in the independent sector. You have given some reasons there about various things that obviously do not work in small amounts et cetera. Are there exceptions to that or is that an across-the-board reasoning? I am just thinking back to some programs we have run in the past where federal government money has gone direct to schools. It has always been rather popular with a lot of schools that I have spoken to. Whether they have used that in the best strategic sense or not may be debatable, but why would it be the case that the loadings would not go direct to the schools.
Dr Newcombe : Maybe I could answer that and I will give an example with the students with disability and the loading there. AIS New South Wales has a team of about five special educators, and I could have 10; they are run off their feet providing support to schools. A lot of that support is fairly basic support. It is going out to schools, sometimes as far as Broken Hill, and assisting a young teacher in some cases to understand how best to integrate a child with a disability in the classroom. If the loadings went directly to schools, with this concept that they would buy back the service, AIS New South Wales would have no special educators, because we would not be able to employ them. So what we are saying is that it is not just throwing money through loadings directly at schools under a per capita basis—and I agree some schools would be able to manage and there are other places where you can buy services, so it is not just us—but overall it would be a backward step. It has been proven with Indigenous in Western Australia, for example, that when that happens schools do not buy back the service; the money is put into other things. I think that would not achieve what we are all trying to achieve here.
Mr SYMON: You are saying that there would at least be a fragmentation or loss of services for some schools?
Dr Newcombe : Yes.
Mr SYMON: In many ways, I would say that is similar to what we have heard in the past about specialist teacher positions. Once they become optional, then they are not necessarily picked up by a particular school. At the moment, the way your services are delivered, your membership schools have access to those services.
Dr Newcombe : Not just membership schools, it is all schools that we represent, because any time we deal with government funding it is not just a membership issue. All schools have access, and there has been no doubt that the additional funding under national partnerships—although we do not necessarily agree with the model—from the current government has been of great benefit. We just have not had enough schools involved; we have only been a very small player. The money for loadings, if it is distributed in the correct way, would be a great benefit to independent schools.
Mr Robertson : We should make it clear that if you equated the proposed loadings in the Gonski model to save targeted programs, national partnerships, now, while the targeted programs and national partnerships money comes through AIS the vast majority of it still does go to schools. It will vary from state to state, depending on what services there are, but, for example, in Queensland, 90 per cent of that money goes to schools, so it is not as though we are providing totally centralised services.
Mr SYMON: Finally, if there is an independent school that does not want to be part of that, and as you have said, they are independent, do they then exist outside the system with the AIS—
Dr Newcombe : Mr Symon, I think if you ask 440 independent schools if they want more money directly to the school, they will all say yes. What we are thinking about is what will produce the best outcome.
Ms O'NEILL: Do you think that schools are capable of making those decisions on the ground? Do you lack confidence in the educational leadership— making decisions about the expenditure of that money to improve student learning outcomes?
Dr Newcombe : No, not necessarily. There are a lot of newly-developing schools. A lot of the schools that are getting the loadings would struggle in how to use those loadings effectively. The larger schools probably have the infrastructure and the ability to do that, but they will get very little of the loadings, so I am really focusing on the lower socioeconomic schools.
Mrs ANDREWS: The bill refers to transparency, but from what you have said today there appears to be a lack of transparency in the process to date. I would like to be very clear on something. Under the modelling that you are aware of, are there schools that will lose funding?
Mr Daniels : Yes.
Mrs ANDREWS: How many?
Mr Daniels : That depends on which day you do the calculations, because of the modelling settings. As I said earlier, the day that we lodged the submission we did it with the data that was in front of us at that time. We have since had further data provided by the government. So the numbers would change. We do not want to be in a position of scaring the horses, if you like. It is really quite unreasonable to say that there will be X-hundred schools when the government could make an offer tomorrow which comes up with an entirely different number of winners or losers. We are in a very difficult position. What we have said to the government, is that within a fortnight we feel obliged to inform each independent school in Australia of the model that is with us at that time. Basically, if there is going to be a COAG in the middle of April, we are going to use March to inform schools what is proposed by the government on the settings that are available at that time. As I say, the settings are changing day by day.
Mrs ANDREWS: From the data that you have seen and the number of schools that would be affected, would you rate that as a significant number of schools?
Mr Daniels : Absolutely. On the current settings, it is a significant number and it would be unacceptable, from an ISCA point of view, to support the model.
Mrs ANDREWS: Is it significant across all states?
Mr Daniels : No. It falls differentially.
Mrs ANDREWS: Which states would be the most affected?
Mr Daniels : I would prefer not to go into that because I think I would have to divulge information which frankly is not in the public arena.
Mr TUDGE: Building on Karen's comments, Dr Newcombe said 40 per cent of New South Wales schools would fall outside the current model. Can you give a figure for what the national situation would be? Would it be similar to that?
Mr Daniels : In our submission we referred to transition schools—several hundred transition schools. How do you find several hundred? You will want to know. Several hundred is not 100, 200 or 300; it is more than that.
Mr TUDGE: So it is 300-plus, so you are talking at least 25 per cent, or more likely 35 or 30 per cent plus.
Mr Daniels : On the current settings.
Mr TUDGE: On the current settings, more than 30 per cent of your schools would be funded outside the model.
Mr Daniels : That is not an unfair proposition, yes.
Mr TUDGE: Could you characterise the type of schools that fall within that 30-plus per cent.
Mr Daniels : The schools are right across the board in terms of socioeconomic status. There is a variation state by state, because there is something known as state relativities in the model, and it depends on whether the state relativities are off or on in the calculations as to how that impacts on individual schools. So there is not a single pattern, or even an understandable pattern, of how this translates school by school.
Mr TUDGE: What would be the impacts on a school in terms of its funding if it is outside the model?
Mr Daniels : That depends on the transition arrangements that the government puts in place. The government has made it clear that there will be transition arrangements. It depends on what those transition arrangements are. But, in reality, what transition will mean is that a school will not receive the same level of indexation as schools that operate within the model, so there will be a loss in real terms of public funding year after year after year until that school fits the model.
Mr TUDGE: Sure. As you said previously, and as we certainly know from the Daily Telegraph today, that could be 80 years. You would think it might be somewhat less than that, but still many, many years, as you said before. If after, say, five years a school is on transition rather than getting real funding increases, what effective percentage reduction in year 5 does that equate to?
Mr Daniels : That depends entirely on the government's proposals for indexation that would apply to, in loose terms, the winners and the losers—whatever the differentiation is. We do not know what that is.
Mr Robertson : It would also depend upon how far a school sits outside the model.
Mr TUDGE: Sure.
Mr Robertson : There will obviously be different circumstances for individual schools.
Mr TUDGE: We heard at least one example of a school which would lose, say, $1,000, which we estimate—
Mr Daniels : There are schools under the current modelling that would lose $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000 per student.
Mr TUDGE: Four or five thousand dollars per annum?
Mr Daniels : Yes.
Mr TUDGE: On a different topic—still on funding, though—the Gonski model refers to a minimum public contribution of 20 to 25 per cent. Are there any schools which do not get to that level presently, and which type are they?
Mr Daniels : I am not sure that I can answer that question. Under the modelling we have done, there would be a substantial number of schools that would not reach the minimum resource standard under the Gonski settings that we have.
Mr TUDGE: They would not meet the minimum public contribution of 20 to 25 per cent of the resource standard?
Mr Daniels : Yes—well, it is a difficulty.
Mr TUDGE: That is a different question.
Mr Daniels : We are talking about the current funding arrangements. There would be a substantial number of large independent schools of high SES which would not be receiving 25 per cent.
Mr TUDGE: So these would be the large, high-fee ones.
Mr Daniels : High SES.
Mr TUDGE: So therefore, on the current modelling, those large, high-fee schools would actually get further public funding to reach that 20 to 25 per cent minimum public contribution.
Mr Daniels : It is possible. As I said earlier, the key to the independent sector and possibly to the Catholic sector—but they can speak for themselves—is the decisions that the government makes about the capacity to contribute and where the 'capacity to contribute' line should be. If you translate that to the current SES funding arrangements, the capacity to contribute starts at an SES of 130, where a school receives 13.7 per cent of AGSRC, and it comes down to an SES of 85, where they receive the maximum, which is 70 per cent of AGSRC. There is a straight line between the two.
Mr TUDGE: It says in the Gonski report, and it is mentioned in your submission, that it will be a minimum of 20 per cent—20 to 25—which is more than 13.7. You are suggesting that it would only be the very high schools that might fall within that category who get 13.7.
Mr Daniels : But you have to take into account state funding. The Gonski model is a combination of Australian government and state government funding, so you cannot equate the two.
Mr TUDGE: If the current SES model with indexation continued for a further two years in order to properly get across the details which we have been discussing today, yesterday and on other days, would you be comfortable with that?
Mr Daniels : Schools need certainty. We are nine months away from schools not knowing whether they will get a payment in January next year or how much the payment will be. That is clearly a solution—to give the government of the day more time—and we would be comfortable with that. If there is another solution and it can be resolved within the next month or so then we may well be happy with that. It depends. In a way, this hearing, with due respect, is at a very unfortunate time.
CHAIR: That is fair enough.
Mr TUDGE: How confident are you that you will have a model which you are comfortable with by COAG, which is less than two months away now? Presumably, the papers have to be completed in a month.
Mr Daniels : Maybe I have been around too long to answer that question. I cannot judge that because I do not know what is in the government's mind.
Mr RAMSEY: This committee is meant to come back to the parliament with a recommendation about whether we should pass the bill, not pass the bill or move major amendments on it. In your mind, what should we be doing with this bill? What should the recommendations of the committee be? Obviously you have a number of difficulties with it as it sits at the moment.
Mr Daniels : I would like to see the committee recommend that the hearings be deferred until you have the settings. When you have the settings, have another round of consultations with people like us, who will be firmer in our views about whether what is proposed is reasonable or not reasonable.
CHAIR: With the government's intention to move amendments to this bill, obviously depending on timing, there may or may not be time to have those amendments sent to the committee and to have discussions with the stakeholders.
Mr Daniels : If I could add some explanation to my answer, the reality is that we, as a sector, intend to commence informing every independent school in the country of the circumstances that we will have on our plate at the time, whenever we start this, in a couple of weeks time, because all we are able to do is deal with what we have.
CHAIR: I have a question about the differences between states. While I recognise you said you felt you could not answer it, are the differences aligned to the level of state government funding to independent schools?
Mr Daniels : Some of them are and some of them are not. Some of them would relate to the relative socioeconomic circumstances of a state. Others would be about the level of funding that state governments provide. If you think of extremes in this, if you think of the Northern Territory situation, the ACT situation and the Tasmanian situation, they are all entirely different and the numbers are very different, but the reasons are different.
CHAIR: Thank you very much for providing evidence to the committee today.
Mr TUDGE: I would like to request, Madam Chair, given that it is only 12:20 pm, that we use up the remaining 10 minutes that is available according to the schedule.
CHAIR: No. I am closing the meeting now. Everyone has had a very good go at answering questions. We have gone over time for each of the groups of witnesses. I would like to thank you very much for coming in today and if there is anything you would like to provide to the committee you can provide that extra evidence—whether that be further information, et cetera—to the committee secretariat; if there is extra information or things that come to light that you would like to provide to the inquiry you can do so. If other members have questions they may want to put them in writing to you. Are you willing to answer questions in writing?
Mr Daniels : Of course.
CHAIR: We can do that. Also, you will be sent the transcript of the comments you have made here and you can make corrections to those comments—grammar or fact. Thank you very much for appearing here today and hopefully we will see you in the future.
Resolved (on motion by Mr Symon, seconded by Mr Ramsey):
That, pursuant to the power conferred by section 2(2) of the Parliamentary Papers Act 1908, this committee authorises publication of the evidence given before it and submissions presented at public hearing this day.
Committee adjourned at 12:21