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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4334

Schools


Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory) (14:43): My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. The Department of Education and Training has revealed that funding for students with disability loading in Tasmania will fall from $36 million in 2017 to $24 million in 2018. When asked in question time yesterday why his government was cutting funding for students with disabilities in Tasmania by around one-third, or $12 million, in 2018, the Prime Minister said, 'I reject the assertion.' Who is correct, the Department of Education or the Prime Minister?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:43): The government is providing almost $1.6 billion this year for students with disability support across Australia, which is around half a billion dollars more than was the case back in 2014—strong growth that has been there under the coalition government in terms of support for students with disability and strong growth that will continue into the future under our reforms that will see additional funding for students with disability across Australia and more students captured as a result of the use of the NCCD report. I have just answered a question from Senator Lambie in relation to data particular to Tasmania. I committed to the Senate to come back with that answer and, of course, that is what I will do.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Pause the clock. Senator McCarthy, a point of order.

Senator McCarthy: The question was: who is correct, the Department of Education and Training or the Prime Minister?

The PRESIDENT: Minister, have you concluded your answer or do you have more to offer?

Senator BIRMINGHAM: I can add—

The PRESIDENT: In that case, I will remind you of the question that was asked by Senator McCarthy.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: I can add that estimated Commonwealth funding in Tasmania will continue to grow from $409 million to $427 million next year, to $594 million by 2027—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a point of order?

Senator Wong: The point of order is direct relevance. The question did not relate to aggregate funding, which are the figures that the minister is giving us. It was a very specific question about the Prime Minister's answer in question time yesterday where he denied evidence which was given by the department. The minister is being asked a simple question: who is correct, the department or the Prime Minister?

The PRESIDENT: I will remind the minister of the question.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: I have not seen what the Prime Minister's question or answer was in question time yesterday. I am absolutely confident that the Prime Minister would absolutely have given accurate information reflective of the growing rate of funding that school students in Tasmania receive. As I indicated to Senator Lambie, I will, of course, happily provide specific information to her.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, a supplementary question.













Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory) (14:45): Why is the Turnbull government cutting funding for students with a disability in the Northern Territory public schools by $10 million, or 40 per cent, in 2018 at the same time that it is giving millionaires a $16,400 tax cut?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:46): The Turnbull government has committed very clearly that we will maintain and increase funding to public schools in the Northern Territory. Of course, there is an overall increase in funding support for schools in the Northern Territory that is quite substantial. We have recognised that there are unique circumstances in relation to the Northern Territory, and we will back the Territory government in terms of continued funding support for those schools. Often, though, we hear those opposite run ideas that contrast with the Turnbull government's policies in relation to tax reform as well and our Enterprise Tax Plan.

It is also very clear that we need to make sure that, as well as making sure that today's school students receive fair funding and an excellent education, there are jobs for them at the end. We absolutely will not apologise for driving policies that help create jobs and help create investment across the Australian economy to ensure that, as well as getting a great education, there are great opportunities for today's students when they are tomorrow's employees.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McCarthy, a final supplementary question.



Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory) (14:47): How is it fair that the Turnbull government is cutting funding for students with a disability in South Australia by $24 million, or 20 per cent, in 2018 at the same time as it is handing $65 billion in tax cuts to big business?


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:47): Under our reforms, we will provide around $21.2 billion over the next decade to support students with a disability to provide them with the assistance they need right across Australia. There is continued year-on-year growth in the support for students with disabilities. In fact, there is an average growth rate of support for students with disabilities across this package of 5.9 per cent each year across Australia. That is a demonstration of the additional funding that is there and the reality that it captures more students than has ever been the case before because of the utilisation of the NCCD data. This is about delivering a fair model of funding that is applied consistently and, in the case of South Australia, as indeed with the Northern Territory and as indeed with Tasmania, sees schools, including public school systems, receive more funding overall.