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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 21 August 2012: education policy; Newspoll

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Hon Christopher Pyne MP Doorstop Interview Parliament House, Canberra 21 August 2012

SUBJECTS: Education policy; Newspoll;


Christopher Pyne: Yesterday the Prime Minister tried to convince people of a base lie and the Leader of the Opposition and I took exception to it. The truth is the only political party that has a policy of putting more funds into public schools is the Coalition because we support indexation at six per cent on the current quantum of funding for all schools, both government and non-government. The Labor Party doesn’t have a policy of more funds for public schools, in fact they have a 3254 school hit list called the Gonski Review of which 2330 schools are public schools and 900 are non-government schools. So, the only political party that is visiting injustice on public schools is the Labor Party because they plan to take money away from public schools through the Gonski Review. The Coalition on the other hand has a policy of increasing funds to both government and non-government schools by keeping the current quantum of funding plus indexation at six per cent.

Last night, Peter Garrett clarified the Prime Minister’s remarks. Yesterday at the Independent Schools Conference Julia Gillard told the independent schools one thing, later in the afternoon and last night Peter Garrett clarified her remarks saying he couldn’t guarantee that no school would be worse off. So we are in the situation again today, where the Government has a 3254 hit list and Peter Garrett has indicated he can’t guarantee that schools will not be worse off, so of course Tony Abbott and I are angry when the Prime Minister lies to the Parliament or lies to the Australian people about the intentions of Coalition.

Journalist: But is the current level of funding for independent schools an injustice?

Pyne: Of course not, the current level of funding for independent schools and Government schools is appropriate, what Tony Abbott was referring to yesterday in his speech was that 66 per cent of students are in Government schools and they receive 80 per cent of all Government funding and 34 per cent of children are in non-government schools and they receive 20 per cent of school funding. So, he was trying to address the myth that was created in Australia by the unions, by the left and by the Labor Party that somehow public schools are short changed by governments when clearly they are not.

Journalist: Will that percentage of public school spending… will that change under a Coalition Government?

Pyne: Well I’ve just indicated that the Coalition is the only political party with a policy of putting more funds into both public and non-government schools, through a 6 per cent indexation on the current quantum of funding. What that means is that all schools will receive what they receive now plus 6 per cent over the forward estimates. The Government has a policy of cutting funding to 3254 schools under the Gonski Review. Now, they say they will find all the funds which runs to over $26 billion over the next four years so that no school will be apparently worse off. Well this is the magic pudding Government. They take a slice out of the pudding and it magically grows again. Now where is the money coming from? The Government can’t be promising to every sector, every wish they’ve ever had and then assuming the rest of the taxpayers won’t work out that the Government is selling them a pup. Of course they haven’t got that money, unless they can prove it the Coalition is not going to join in a hoax on Australian parents.

Journalist: Will you guarantee that no school will be worse off under the Coalition?

Pyne: Absolutely I can make that guarantee. I can make the guarantee that no school will be worse off under a Coalition Government because our policy is the current quantum of funds plus 6 per cent indexation for non-government schools and Government schools get the same indexation because of the way the system works under the AGSRC, which is the average cost to educate a child in a Government school.

Journalist: What are your thoughts about the latest Newspoll? Is it perhaps a reminder that the next election is not a done deal for the Opposition?

Pyne: Well polls come and go. The Essential Poll yesterday showed that the Coalition had gone up to 57 and Labor down to 43. The Newspoll has shown a tightening in the polls to 53 to 47. I would say about the Newspoll, in a week where the Government adopted one third of the Coalition’s policy on offshore processing, perhaps if they had adopted all of it they might have improved even further in the polls. I think the Government wants to have an election if they think they are in an election-winning position, I am sure the Australian public and the Coalition would welcome the Prime Minister calling an election.