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Shorten confirms Labor and the AEU 'one-and-the-same'



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SENATOR THE HON SIMON BIRMINGHAM Minister for Education and Training Senator for South Australia

MEDIA RELEASE

15 February 2016

Shorten confirms Labor and the AEU ‘one-and-the-same’

Bill Shorten today confirmed the Australian Education Union is simply a mouthpiece for the Australian Labor Party, claiming apparently ‘independent’ AEU research as his own Shadow Education Minister’s.

“So what Kate’s research underlines is that there isn’t enough money being invested in our school kids.” - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 15/02/2016

‘Kate’s research’ actually refers to research undertaken by the Australian Education Union as part of their State of Our Schools survey.

Minister Birmingham said the Leader of the Opposition had today ‘outed’ the Australian Education Union and the Labor Party as “one-and-the-same”. The claims are made all the more embarrassing as they are in stark contrast to independent advice that places Australia “well above” the OECD average for schools spending.

“The Australian Council for Education Research 2013 review of the PISA results concluded that in relation to adequacy of resources for schools Australia scores were well above the OECD average, indicating that, relative to other OECD countries, Australian schools on average had access to a high quality of educational resources.” - PISA 2012: How Australia Measures Up, Melbourne: Australian Council for Education Research, 2013, p263

“While the Opposition and Union continue to play politics with schools funding, the Turnbull Government is investing a record $69.5 billion in Australian schools, representing a 27.9 per cent increase from 2014-15.

“However, while a reasonable level of funding is the bedrock for good educational performance, what we do with that funding matters even more.”

Minister Birmingham said ridiculous claims today by Kate Ellis that schools were struggling “to have the pens and paper to put on the tables” are designed to do nothing more than unnecessarily scare parents and school communities as the Commonwealth Government continues to make record investments in Australian schools.

“Most importantly these claims ignore one of the most basic facts about school funding in Australia and that is that the State and Territory governments make up a majority of the funding for the school system, including contributing 87 per cent of the funding to their own schools in 2013-14.

“In the 10 years to 2013-14 the Commonwealth’s funding grew in real terms by more than 66 per cent in government schools and 18 per cent in non-government schools while state and territory funding for government schools per student grew by 6.7 per cent and 12.3 per cent for non-government schools. In the most recent four years from 2009-10 to 2013-14, Commonwealth funding per student across the country grew by more than 20 per cent, while state and territory funding contracted by 0.3 per cent.

“Government schools have always been the primary responsibility of state and territory governments yet the data makes it clear that the Commonwealth has increasingly taken on a greater share of the responsibility for these schools.

“Contrary to Labor’s claims of cuts, the Turnbull Government will continue to increase and index funding annually, off of the current base of record levels, and we will be responsible not reckless with taxpayer dollars. That’s why I want a debate focused on how we lift quality, not just on how much we spend.”

Minister Birmingham’s media contact: James Murphy, 0478 333 974 Nick Creevey, 0447 644 957

Department Media: media@education.gov.au