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Business leaders call for education funding increase

Reporter: Adrian Raschella

Australian business leaders have made calls for the Federal Government to drastically increase
education funding.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Australia's business leaders are calling for a dramatic increase in funds for
education. They say too many students are entering the workforce without the right skills and that
increases in education spending should at least match those being given to Defence.

Adrian Raschella reports.

ADRIAN RASCHELLA: Australian business says governments, especially the Commonwealth, need to do
much more to improve education standards.

PETER HENDY, AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY: We think in an election year, both major
political parties need to put education front and centre.

ADRIAN RASCHELLA: The Chamber of Commerce and Industry says education spending lags behind the US,
UK, France and New Zealand. It's calling for an $8 billion increase in funding over three years,
which would amount to about 3 per cent, with a third of that to come from the Federal Government.

PETER HENDY: You can give that sort of commitment for defence spending, you can also give it to
education spending.

JULIE BISHOP, EDUCATION MINISTER: I agree that Australia could do more in investing in education
and I note that the Chamber calls upon the state governments, for example, to invest a further $5
billion over the next three years in education.

ADRIAN RASCHELLA: Labor says it would boost education funding, but won't say by how much.

STEPHEN SMITH, OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN: Under the Howard Government, we have under-invested in
education, in skills and in training.

ADRIAN RASCHELLA: The Chamber found half of the businesses it surveyed said graduates didn't have
the right skills for the workforce. They want a voucher system for universities and a shake-up at
TAFE, with more competition and a HECS-style fee system. TAFE directors have welcomed the
recommendations. Industry says the school curriculum needs to be broader, with a greater focus on
music and languages. But schools say a teacher shortage makes that tough to achieve.

WENDY TEASDALE-SMITH, SECONDARY PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION: It's very difficult, even in a high school
scenario, to make sure we have teachers that are trained and ready, able to teach languages. And I
certainly know my primary colleagues suffer from this issue even more.

ADRIAN RASCHELLA: The business blueprint for education also calls for performance-based pay for
teachers. Adrian Raschella, Lateline.

(c) 2007 ABC