Doorstop Interview - Canberra - 2 May 2016

SUBJECT/S: States rejecting Malcolm Turnbull’s school cuts; the Liberals’ election promise to provide $3.5 billion less funding for schools by 2020 compared to Labor; submarines; Manus Island

KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Today we have students, parents and teachers returning to schools, only to have been insulted by the Turnbull Government's so-called education policy. The Coalition Government do not have an education policy, all they have is an excuse to get them through the next election. We know that not only are they proposing ripping $3.5 billion out of our schools compared to Labor's plan that is fully-costed and fully-funded, but we also know that they seek to undo all of the reform, all of the progress that has been made in consultation with states and territories, with teachers and principals and education stakeholders.

 

Already today we see their plan in disarray, with states pushing back, saying that it will not work, saying they will not implement it. And that is because this is something that has just been hatched up by the Turnbull Government to try and get them through the next election, when we know that just a couple of weeks ago, Malcolm Turnbull didn't believe that the Federal Government shouldn't have any role in our public schools at all. Now the choice at the next election will be incredibly clear - Labor has a plan to ensure than every student in every school gets the attention and support that they need. Our plan means that they can invest in additional literacy and numeracy support, that we can make sure that students with disability and special needs have all the attention that they need. So that we can make sure that we're lifting the quality of teaching, and so that we can make sure that we have all of the additional supports in place to lift Australia's educational attainment.

 

This is important because we know that the gap between high performing and low performing schools in Australia is greater than the OECD average and is continuing to grow. But it's also important because the reality is, if we are going to have the skills for the jobs of the future, then we need to adopt Labor's Your Child. Our Future education policy.

 

JOURNALIST: Kate what about the part of the policy that would see children in years one and above evaluated for their literacy and numeracy skills, do you think that is a good idea?

 

ELLIS: I think the question for the Turnbull Government is, what is the point of them testing and evaluating literacy levels if they don't provide the funding to actually do something about the problems that are uncovered? What we want to see is that there are resources so that early intervention means that we can have additional support for those students who are falling behind. What the Turnbull Government are proposing, is that we do a whole lot of testing across the country, but then that they do not provide the resources so that we can help those students who are at risk of falling behind, or give additional support to those students who are excelling. This is a thought bubble, but it is worse than that. It is an insult. This education plan is an insult to every student, to every teacher, and to every parent, that knows that Australian schools deserve proper policy. 

 

JOURNALIST: There are reports this morning that low and middle income earners, including women that have <inaudible> to have kids will have their superannuation boosted, curbing concessions to high income earners. Is that a good idea? 

 

ELLIS: We've seen the Liberal Party's record when it comes to superannuation, every single time they have tried to cut superannuation, every single time they have stood in the way of progress. It is really important that Labor put in place measures to protect low income earners when it came to superannuation, and it is only because we stood up in the Parliament and fought against the Coalition's attacks on them that they remain in place. Australians have seen time and time again that you cannot trust the Liberal Party when it comes to superannuation. 

 

JOURNALIST: But <inaudible> curbing concessions to high income earners and putting it into low-income earners, that's something you would agree to right?

 

ELLIS: Well certainly we are really proud of our track record when it comes to low income earners and their superannuation, but also that we have a very clear policy when it comes to superannuation co-contributions. We stand by Labor's plan which has been out there. We know that this is just Malcolm Turnbull being tricky once again, you only need to look at the record of the Government in this Parliament, let alone in the parliaments leading up to this one, to see that they just can't be trusted on superannuation.

 

JOURNALIST: The decision to build submarines in South Australia - what impact will that have on the Federal election result in that state?

 

ELLIS: Well obviously, I'll leave it up to the commentators to talk about the politics, but what I will say is that we do welcome the fact that this is a significant investment in South Australia and Australian jobs. We know that this is incredibly important, and we also know that the Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming to actually deliver upon what was a very clear election commitment. The submarines announcement was only made possible because Labor and the State Government, and most importantly the people of South Australia stood up and called-out the Liberal Government and told them that there would be very clear consequences otherwise.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you think it will be enough though for the Government to retain seats there?

 

ELLIS: A few weeks and that will be clear. What I do know is that this is clearly a Government which is now being driven by politics at every stage. This is a Government that is being driven, whether it's in superannuation or education, by a plan to get them through the next election, not a plan for the future of the country. And obviously, it will be just a few weeks’ time before you see how the Australian public respond to that. But I do stand here as a very proud South Australian welcoming the submarine announcement and being very proud that we stood up and fought so hard for it. 

 

JOURNALIST: What do you think should happen to the 900 asylum seekers languishing in the Manus Island detention centre?

 

ELLIS: Obviously, we need to make sure that we have important an urgent discussions with the Government over there and we need to engage more broadly in the region. We know that we need a regional solution in these areas, something we have been pushing for for a long time, and those discussions are obviously now more urgent than ever.