The education minister has rubbished claims that Australia’s neediest will lose out in his school funding shake-up
May 18, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
The Coalition has denied new claims that Australia’s two neediest states will lose millions of dollars under Government school funding reforms.
The Australian Education Union says federal budget papers show public school funding in Tasmania will fall by $1.8 million and in the Northern Territory by $28.9 million in 2017/18.
And it claims Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull does not understand his party’s own education modelling, with the PM disputing the figures when questioned about them by journalists in Darwin this week.
AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe said of the Government: “They say that their new funding model will be needs-based, yet their own figures show they are stripping money from public schools in the two jurisdictions with the highest need - the NT and Tasmania.
“The pre-election fix the Coalition has announced is falling apart, with no idea how much funding will go to each state, or how it will be distributed.
“The decrease in NT funding is despite the fact that the Northern Territory has one of the most socio-economically disadvantaged populations in Australia.
“Of the 100 most disadvantaged schools nationally, 54 are in the NT, and 44 per cent of NT students live in remote or very remote locations, compared to 2.2% nationally”
Federal education minister Simon Birmingham has denied the Coalition is confused about its own allocations, saying it is still in the process of reforming the funding system and that figures in the budget papers are not concrete.
"The state by state amounts outlined in the budget papers are indicative allocations only,” he said.
“The government is determined to develop a new, simpler distribution model to replace the 27 different funding models that we inherited under Labor's so-called national approach.
"Our new model will ensure funding is distributed according to need.
“With total school funding across Australia to grow from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020, the Northern Territory and Tasmania will receive significantly increased funding over that time.
“In negotiations with the Northern Territory and Tasmanian governments over a new needs-based distribution model, we will be working to ensure that funding is maintained each year so that schools currently delivering valuable programs can continue to do so."
Ms Haythorpe criticised the lack of detail around the Coalition’s funding system, saying there were “no guarantees” that states wouldn’t lose funding or that funding would be distributed on the basis of need.
“How can we have confidence in what the Coalition is promising, when they walk away from their own Budget and simply tell States and Territories to take on trust that they will get more funding?” she asked.
“This is not needs-based funding, it is making it up as you go along. Schools need certainty around funding so they can deliver the best results for their students.
“It is clear that the Coalition has not worked out the basics of its own policy. It has no idea how the funding will be distributed, no idea what each state will receive and no idea how its conditions will be enforced.”
The AEU has long been a vocal supporter of the Gonksi funding reforms introduced by the Gillard Government in 2013 and endorsed by the Abbott Government before being abandoned by the Coalition as too expensive.
Labor has committed to fund the final two years of Gonski at a cost of $4.5 billion over 2018-19, while the Coalition has agreed a $1.2 billion replacement, to be rolled out across 2018-20.