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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5213


Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (16:18): School councils, business managers, principals and parents in my electorate of Higgins are very concerned about the lack of information and detail regarding the government's proposed new funding model and indexation arrangements for state, Catholic and independent schools. They are right to be concerned because the government sat on the Gonski recommendations for more than 18 months. It has, since then, been conducting discussions in secret and we are now less than six months before a new calendar year. Schools do not have any certainty regarding their funding arrangements and cannot plan for the future with the absence of knowledge of what it is they can deliver for their students.

I would like to draw the minister's attention to some of the information available on the public record regarding a number of schools in my electorate. I have done my own analysis of exactly what it is that will be the impact to them as a result of the government's proposed funding and indexation arrangements.

I have looked at the school type, the SES, the population of the school, the fee income total, the fee income per student, the SRS percentage, the Gonski expected minimum fee total, the Gonski expected minimum fee per student. And then I have calculated the fee difference, and the percentage increase, that will apply to these schools. I would like to go through each one in turn and get the minister's response.

The Holy Eucharist School in my electorate—I have calculated based on that information provided—will have a fee differential of $2,843. Just to stand still, it will need to increase parents' fees by 232 per cent; the differential in fees for Our Lady of Lourdes School is $3,282, and the increase in fees for parents is 263 per cent; St Anthony's School, $2,333, an increase to parents of 148 per cent; at St Cecilias School in Glen Iris, parents are going to be hit with an extra $4,038 per student, an increase of 257 per cent; St Joseph's Primary School in Malvern, $3,064, an increase of 159 per cent; St Mary's School, $3,096 per student, an increase of 151 per cent; St Michael's School, $2,709, an increase of 179 per cent; St Roch's School, $3,436, an increase of 184 per cent. These are just some of the schools in my electorate. I am also particularly concerned about a number of other schools in my electorate as well. I would be very keen for the minister to respond to those figures.

I would also like the minister to respond to the transition to the new funding model. I refer the minister to advice provided during Senate estimates hearings for the Department of Finance and Deregulation last week. It was suggested that the total amount of funding provided across the forward estimates for the National Plan for School Improvement is $2.98 billion comprising of $2.1 billion in redirections, which leaves $880 million in additional funding set aside across the forward estimates for the National Plan for School Improvement.

Previous statements by the Prime Minister suggested that additional funding of $9.8 billion is required to transition all schools to the new funding model over a six-year period. The Prime Minister also suggested that the Gonski model will be transitioned in over six years. I understand the previous modelling of the transition to the full Gonski has been predicated on a straight-line transition over six years. The department of finance did not dispute the assumption that the government's estimates are predicated on a straight-line transition over six years.

My questions are: what transition arrangements are assumed in the budget for the National Plan for School Improvement? What impact will this have on the overall numbers? Will other states and territories be permitted to negotiate different transition paths? If a straight-line transition is assumed in the budget to introduce the new funding model over six years then is it not the case that the budget should have provided for 3.5 years of funding of the $9.8 billion given the model commences in 2014? Does the minister agree that a straight-line transition will translate in monetary terms to some $5.7 billion in additional funding out of $9.8 billion across the forward estimates assuming no growth for enrolment or indexation? Does the minister agree that $880 million over the forward estimates represents only about nine per cent of the total expenditure of the $9.8 billion that had been suggested by the Prime Minister as needed to transition to the new school funding model? Finally, can you provide exact details of the transition funding for each financial year across the forward estimates by state? (Time expired)