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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5206


Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (15:48): I do have a number of questions that I want to put to the minister in this consideration in detail of the Appropriations Bill with respect to education. In last year's midyear economic and fiscal outlook, MYEFO, indexation of 5.6 per cent was projected for the years 2013-14 to 2015-16. I refer the minister to Budget Paper No. 2 2013-14, page 120, which suggests that the government intends to index school funding at 4.7 per cent from 2014 onwards. The first question is: does the 4.7 per cent growth funding include enrolment growth? Secondly, what is the difference in dollar terms between 5.6 and 4.7 in indexation for each of the years from 2013-14 to 2016-17? I also refer the minister to advice provided by the Department of Finance and Deregulation last week in Senate estimates hearings, which confirmed that the current method of indexation, the AGSRC, goes up and down each year and that the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook indexation of 5.6 per cent was correct at the time of publication.

There is a specific paragraph in Budget Paper No. 2 that suggests:

Under the former approach of growing these allocations in line with the AGSRC, schools funding growth could have fallen below these levels. Had the AGSRC fallen to three per cent per annum (as suggested by current State estimates, on average) then the total additional investment in schools under the National Plan for School Improvement would equate to approximately $16.2 billion over six years.

Firstly, was only one year of state estimates used to project three per cent indexation across six years in making this assumption? Secondly, why wasn't the 10-year rolling average used as per previous budget estimates, given the Department of Finance confirmed that the 10-year rolling average projections contained in MYEFO were correct at the time of publication? Thirdly, was it the department that put in this paragraph in Budget Paper No. 2, page 120, or the minister's office? Did the state estimates used to project AGSRC in the budget include the additional funding your government is asking the states to contribute under the National Plan for School Improvement? If the state estimates did not include the amount of funding the states are being asked to contribute under the National Plan for School Improvement, why not?

In that time I have remaining I will ask a number of other questions. The minister might want to take them on notice and respond, as some ministers do, or he may choose to respond to them today if he can. I refer the minister to the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio budget statements on page 50, Special appropriations under the Schools Assistance Act 2008. I also refer him to the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio budget statements on page 50, Special appropriations under the Australian Education Act 2013. Firstly, why is there more than $1 billion less forecast in recurrent funding for non-government schools over the forward estimates when comparing the portfolio budget statements of last year to this year? Secondly, will the following targeted programs for non-government schools be discontinued at the end of the year? The Indigenous Supplementary Assistance, Indigenous Funding Guarantee, Country Areas Program, School Languages Program, English as a Second Language, Literacy and Numeracy in Special Learning Needs, and Literacy, Numeracy and Special Learning Needs (Students with a Disability). How much are targeted programs worth to the non-government sector each year? With respect to the total funding for non-government schools contained within the forecasts from the portfolio budget statements at page 50, what is: firstly, the value of indexation supplementation for each year across the forward estimates in dollar terms? Secondly, the value of recurrent funding for each year across the forward estimates for Catholic schools, by state and territory? Thirdly, the value of recurrent funding for each year across the forward estimates for independent schools by state and territory?

As I have another minute, I will ask further questions. An opinion editorial by Stephen Anthony of Macroeconomics Pty Limited in the Australian Financial Review of 21 May noted a number of things. I refer the minister to the article and ask the following questions. How much of the $2.8 billion budgeted for the National Plan for School Improvement is unrebadged new money? Is the reward for school improvement programs being rebadged as suggested by Mr Anthony? Which other national partnerships are being redirected into the National Plan for School Improvement? Is it the case that the government is rebadging its own school funding programs? I would like to be able to ask further questions. Unfortunately, because of the lateness of the start of this consideration in detail, I will not be able to do that. I would appreciate it if the minister tried to answer those questions, and I am sure if he can he will. My colleagues, including the member for Farrer, the member for Higgins and others, will take up the baton and ask questions about their portfolios.