Labor's 'Your child. Our future' plan for Australian education; Malcolm Turnbull's 15 per cent GST on everything

RADIO INTERVIEW.
ABC NEWSRADIO BREAKFAST.
FRIDAY, 29 JANUARY 2016.

 

SANDY ALOISI: Kate Ellis, good morning.

ELLIS: Thank you Sandy.

ALOISI: Big commitment, where will the money come from?

ELLIS: Well we made sure that we outlined our savings initiatives that will more than cover the spending commitments that were made yesterday. But I will put back onto the Government that if they want to talk about costs, let's talk about the cost of not investing in our education system, let's talk about the cost of seeing Australia continue to slip backwards in international comparisons and let's talk about the cost of their proposal to rip $30 billion from our schools, the biggest cut to our school system in our nation's history.

ALOISI: You can't argue that money hasn't been put into our education system over the last few years from both sides of politics, but that still means that our international standing is still not where it should be, particularly in areas of maths, science and literacy standards. Will you be targeting those areas with your funding to try to improve that?

ELLIS: Absolutely. Nobody is suggesting that money alone is the answer. What we need to do is invest in evidence based policies, spend more money on the programs which we know make a difference and stop spending money on those that don't. An important part of yesterday's announcement was about returning accountability and transparency to our school funding system. So that we can ensure that this money is targeting towards evidence based and supported programs.

ALOISI: And which are those programs?

ELLIS: We know for example, that we want to see more investment in literacy and numeracy support and early intervention. This funding will mean that as soon as children slip behind in literacy and numeracy there will be additional support available to them. But equally for those children that are excelling, those children who are advanced in these areas, that there are extension programs so we can continue to give them the education that they need to strive. We also know that one of the most critical things to our education system is the teacher that's standing at the front of the classroom. We announced yesterday we will enhance entry requirements for education degrees, we will improve our education training system and we will continue to invest in professional development for teachers. I mean one example Sandy, that I might quickly give is parents might be mortified to know that particularly in secondary schools, how few teachers actually have any formal training in the subject areas that they are teaching. What we want to do is make sure that we have experts in technology, maths and science who are in the classroom and in charge of teaching and passing on that knowledge to our students.

ALOISI: And you've asked the Liberal state governments to try to convince the Coalition to put more money in education. But I noticed this morning that Adrian Piccoli that Education Minister in New South Wales is also asking well, where is this money from Labor going to come from, I mean $4.5 billion, do you have areas where you'll draw this money from?

ELLIS: Certainly. We have announced over $70 billion in savings initiatives that include some hard decisions. I mean last year we announced the increase in tobacco excise for example. This isn't easy, we know that there are people who will be hit and it will cost them significantly more for cigarettes in the future. But we believe that the priority should be our education system. Equally we have announced closing down the multinational loop holes, making sure that multinational companies pay their fair share so that that funding can support programs like increasing our school system. We've also announced a number of Turnbull Government programs which we will cease. So this isn't about just making easy positive announcements, we've also done the hard work and we will continue to do the hard work. Programs like the Baby Bonus which Malcolm Turnbull did a deal with the Nationals in order to become Prime Minister and get their support, he's seeking to reintroduce. We would not spend the money in that way, we would divert it to Labor priorities and we've made very clear that education is absolutely front and centre of Labor priorities.

ALOISI: And will that funding be blanket funding? Will all schools be equal in the
funding they get from a Labor government?

ELLIS: No. What we will do is introduce a sector blind and needs based funding policy. What that means is that while every school will see funding, more funding will go to those schools that need it the most. We know for example that students with disability require more resources and more support in schools and it will be available. We know that regional schools are slipping behind and that smaller schools in regional areas need more funding. A reason why I would think that Adrian Piccoli and Barnaby Joyce and others might actually want to front up to Malcolm Turnbull and asking him to match this. But also it's really important for Indigenous education and we will have a special loading in place as part of the original school funding agreements following the Gonski review, which will see that the students who need it the most, students in low SES areas we receive the maximum amount of this funding, but it will go to all sectors and all schools and ultimately it will support all students.

ALOISI: And just finally, Kate Ellis, the Federal Cabinet met yesterday, I gather that the discussions still centre around a possible increase in the GST. Will Labor need to do that to help fund programs like this?

ELLIS: Absolutely not. We do not see the way forward as hiking up the price of everything for people in the community who can least afford it, which is why we have been out there putting forward our alternative saving measures. We will continue to do so but the Australian public can be very clear that if they do not want to see an increase in the GST, if they do not want to see the price of everything increase, then they should vote Labor at the next election.

ALOISI: Kate Ellis, Thank you.

ELLIS: Thank you.