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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 44

Education Funding

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:28): My question is to the Prime Minister. At the last election voters saw coalition signs at polling booths that read: 'Liberals will match Labor's school funding dollar for dollar.' When will the Prime Minister sign up to Labor's 'Your Child. Our Future' plan, which will ensure that every Australian child gets the best quality education, no matter where they live?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right! Members on my left will not hold up signs. It is in breach of the standing orders. The attendants will collect them.

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:29): As the honourable member knows very well, the government is investing more money in schools than ever before. We have implemented needs based funding and we have matched and we have exceeded the former Labor government's over the four years from 2014. We have committed record levels of funding at $69½ billion over the forward estimates, and that includes a record of $5 billion in funding for students with a disability. But despite a 100 per cent increase in Commonwealth and state expenditure on schools, in real terms, between 1988 and 2012, there has been an absolute and relative decline in student performance. This demonstrates that spending more money does not necessarily get you better outcomes.

School funding arrangements for 2018 and beyond will be subject to negotiations with the states and territories and the non-government education authorities. But, unlike the opposition, we will not promise the money first and, then, seek to negotiate the outcomes later. The Labor Party have no credibility at all when it comes to these big-spending proposals, as they have no way of funding them. They have no hope of funding them. Even members of the Labor Party do not believe they can deliver on their schools policy. The South Australian Labor Premier, Jay Weatherill, said of the Leader of the Opposition's education policy announcement, 'We haven't seen any coherent or sustainable way in which that is going to be funded.'

Ms Macklin interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga will cease interjecting!

Mr TURNBULL: This is the judgement of his peers. This is one of the leading figures in the Labor Party, the Premier of South Australia. He says of the policy the opposition leader has just asked me about, 'We haven't seen any coherent or sustainable way in which that's going to be funded.' If he has not seen it, why does the Leader of the Opposition expect anybody else to take it seriously?

We remain committed to schools funding that is fair, equitable, needs based and improves student outcomes. We are making sure it is being used where it counts: teacher quality, a better curriculum, parental engagement and in supporting principals to make local decisions about their local schools. And when we make promises we will be able to fund them. We will fund them—unlike Labor who make promises with no backing, no finance and no responsibility.

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney will not hold up the sign. The attendants have been asked to collect them.

Ms Butler interjecting

Ms King interjecting

Ms Macklin interjecting

Ms Kate Ellis interjecting

The SPEAKER: Before I call the member for Dobell, the level of interjections is far too high. The members for Griffith, Ballarat, Jagajaga and Adelaide, I have mentioned a number of times. I am mentioning it again, now, in case they did not hear over the noise.