Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 29 May 1984
Page: 2006

Senator MAGUIRE —My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I refer to the level of Commonwealth Government funding for schools and ask: What is the total level of assistance by the Commonwealth Government in the current financial year for expenditure by private schools compared with the allocation for government schools? Is it the case that the dollar amounts allocated by the Commonwealth to each of these two major sectors of the Australian school system are broadly equal? If so, what are the factors which explain this position?

Senator RYAN —Since the programs are operated on a calendar year basis, the most appropriate figures are those published in the guideline statement for 1984. These indicate that, in updated estimated 1983 prices, government schools will receive $622.7m and non-government schools $655.6m. In answer to the second part of Senator Maguire's question, quite clearly that pattern of funding is not undertaken on an equal dollar amount for each section because on a national average about 75 per cent of children are in government schools and about 25 per cent are in non-government schools. So the proportion of funding going to non- government schools directly from the Commonwealth Government is very much higher than the proportion of those children in the schools' population. Part of the explanation for this is the fact that the Commonwealth, directly speaking, is the minor partner in funding State schools. State schools are mainly the funding responsibility of state governments and therefore the role played by the Commonwealth in terms of direct recurrent funding is that of a minor partner. In fact the figure of direct recurrent funding in recent years has been about 7 per cent. Originally when the Commonwealth Schools Commission was established the Commonwealth gave 10 per cent of the current funds to government schools. Over a successive number of years that figure has been reduced to 7 per cent.

In relation to the non-government sector, as far as government or public support is concerned, the Commonwealth Government is the major funding partner. This is a situation which has been discussed and debated for some time and which does not answer the demands of all sectors of the community. It is the case that in our 1984 Budget we did redress the balance towards government funding by some percentage, but the facts are still as I have stated them, namely, that a considerably higher amount of money goes directly to non-government schools, which have 25 per cent of children, than the amount going directly to government schools, which have 75 per cent of the children. However, as I said, there are a number of reasons for this, the main one being the different nature of the relationship, the funding partnership, with regard to State schools from that which prevails with regard to non-government schools. However, all these matters are being taken into account by the Commonwealth Government in its desire to produce for this year and future years a funding formula which is equitable to all sectors, which is seen and accepted as being equitable to all sectors and which does reflect in an equitable and needs-based way the responsibility of the Commonwealth to all children.