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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3350


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (10:46): I rise to second this motion. This is an important motion to suspend standing orders today to debate the Parliamentary Australian Education Amendment (School Funding Guarantee) Bill 2014. The Abbott government have been robbing the schoolchildren of Australia and they want to make it possible for the states and territories also to rob the schoolchildren of Australia.

The whole purpose of the Gonski education reforms is to make sure that every school in Australia is a great school and that every child in Australia can get a great education. John Dewey said, 'What the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what everyone in society should want for all of our children.' That is what the Gonski education reforms are all about—making sure that every child in every school has the education they deserve.

We have to suspend standing orders today to debate this legislation because we need to make sure that the states are not ripping extra funding out of their state education budgets—that, as the Commonwealth government tips a little bit extra into the top, the states are not ripping the funding out of the bottom of the system. Take Western Australia as just one example. Before the election, Western Australia was offered $920 million in extra school funding by the previous government, by our government—$920 million of extra funding for the schoolchildren of Western Australia. What did they get after the election? They got $120 million over four years. So $920 million over six years and $120 million over four years—a difference of $800 million. What does that mean this year in Western Australian schools? It means that, instead of being $400,000 better off on average in Western Australian schools this year, they are $135,000 worse off. Instead of getting more money in schools this year, they are getting less money in schools this year in Western Australia.

There have been hundreds of job losses—teachers, teachers' aides, anaphylaxis education assistants, Aboriginal and Islander education officers. Teacher numbers have been frozen, even though there are 11,000 more students in the system this year. What does that mean? It means bigger class sizes and less individual attention for students. School support funding has been cut by 30 per cent. That means less funding for literacy and numeracy programs for kids, for behaviour management programs, for Indigenous students' needs, for kids with learning difficulties and for kids who have English as a second language.

Before the election this government promised that they were on a unity ticket with Labor when it came to school education funding. Every day since then we have seen that promise broken—and broken in the worst possible way, in a way that robs the schoolchildren of Australia. The education deal that this minister opposite has proposed is a second-rate deal. It is a deal that provides less than a third of the funding that schools would have received under Labor's offer. It is a deal that gives only four years funding, not six. It is a deal that ignores the student resource standard. It is a deal that ignores the extra loadings for kids from a disadvantaged background, for kids with a disability, for kids who are Indigenous, for kids who have English as a second language and for kids who attend a remote or small school or are from a poor background. What is worse—and what we are trying to fix today with this piece of legislation—is that it allows the states to rob their own schoolchildren as well.

Before the election we saw states that did not sign up to the Gonski education model, because they refused to put $1 in for every $2 they were being offered by the Commonwealth government. We have seen them refuse the extra funding—as Western Australia refused to accept $920 million of extra money for their schools. But, what is worse is that even the states that signed up to the deal have been given a nod and a wink as well—even those states that have now agreed that they would put in extra funding. Those teachers, those kids and those parents had a deal. They knew they were going to get extra funding for their schools. But, no, this education minister opposite has said with a nod and a wink to those state systems: 'You don't need to keep your word; we haven't kept our word as a federal government.' They have said, 'We're not going to keep our promise to fund schools extra, but you don't need to keep your promise either'—shameful!