25 February 2014
With just 12 weeks until the Abbott Government delivers its first budget, there are clear signs today of its intention to abandon its promise to implement Labor's Gonski school reforms.
This is despite the iron-clad commitments made by the Prime Minister and the Education Minister before the election; when they went to great efforts to convince voters they supported Labor's Gonski school funding model, and the money that goes with it:
"We will honour the agreements that Labor has entered into. We will match the offers that Labor has made. We will make sure that no school is worse off. We think that money is important." (Tony Abbott, Press Conference, 2 August 2013)
"You can vote Liberal or Labor and you'll get exactly the same about of funding for your school." (Christopher Pyne, Press Conference, 29 August 2013)
"We are committed to the student resource standard, of course we are. We are committed to this new school funding model." (Christopher Pyne, Radio National Breakfast, 30 August 2013)
Tony Abbott told the Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum last night that "we must reduce the rate of spending growth" in education, and today, Christopher Pyne has labelled growth in education spending as "unsustainable".
"Implementing Labor's Gonski reforms involves a $9.8 billion commitment from the Federal Government over six years. If money for the fifth year of Gonski is not in this year's budget, they can't claim to have implemented the Gonski reforms at all," Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis said.
At a state level, Liberals understand the importance of these once-in-a-generation reforms and are lining up to warn Tony Abbott against breaking his commitments.
"Liberal Governments in Victoria and New South Wales, and even the Liberal Opposition in Tasmania have made it incredibly clear to Tony Abbott that he must not scrap the six year funding deals that have been signed with those states," Kate Ellis said.
"Without growing investment in education, it is simply impossible for Tony Abbott to keep his promise that 'no school will be worse off', or that he will match school funding 'dollar-for-dollar'."
Labor's Gonski reforms set a national minimum Student Resource Standard for all students, to be reached over time. Increases in funding are also linked to significant reforms in the quality of teaching, student outcomes and engagement with parents.
"It will take six years to make sure that every student in every school gets the national minimum resources needed to deliver individual attention and better outcomes," Kate Ellis said.
At a time when we are facing growing levels of youth unemployment, investment in skills development and education is more important than ever.
"Unless Tony Abbott keeps his commitment to Labor's Gonski reforms, youth unemployment and the gap between our most advantaged and disadvantaged students will continue to grow."