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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 2083

Mr LATHAM (3:23 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister, and I refer to his earlier answer on school funding. Why does the Prime Minister believe that the King's School, with an annual budget of $26 million, should receive a funding increase three times greater than the needy Bethel Christian School, with its demountable classrooms, at Mount Druitt? Prime Minister, what is fair about that?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I will tell you what is fair about the government's funding system. Firstly, it is generically fair for the reasons that I outlined in the earlier answer—

The SPEAKER —The member for Lalor is warned!

Mr HOWARD —Mr Speaker, I repeat: it is generically fair because 68 per cent of children in government schools receive 76 per cent of all government funding. It is also generically fair because every time parents choose to send a child to the non-government sector, they save the taxpayers of this country, on average, $3,000 a head.

Specifically, it is fair in relation to the Bethel Christian School and the King's School because the aggregate of government funding to Bethel is 61 per cent of the cost of educating a child in a public school, whereas the funding for the King's School is half of that, 31 per cent of the cost of educating a child in a government school—thus fulfilling the principle that I enunciated that, no matter what the independent school is, if you choose to send your child out of the state system, thereby relieving the taxpayers of Australia of the full cost of educating your child in a government school, as a matter of ordinary equity, you are entitled to some help from the government on a graduated scale according to need. And when you compare King's and Bethel, that principle is met. Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.