Queensland impact of Abbott Government’s $30 billion cuts to schools

TUESDAY, 29 JULY 2014

KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: It is great to join Yvette Dath, the Queensland Shadow Minister for Education and Member for Redcliffe and be out here at Kelvin Grove State College. We’re here in Queensland today because we see that new analysis of the Government’s own figures show just how hard Queensland schools will be hit by the Federal Government’s cuts.

 

We see that $6.29 billion will not flow to Queensland schools as a result of the decisions announced in Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne’s education budget just earlier this year. What that means on the ground is each year, each student will receive on average $1,000 less that is spent on their education. This has a huge impact on the quality of education.

 

We’re here today to call on Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman to stop collaborating on school cuts. We know that this will have a devastating impact on Queensland. We know that at a time when we’re meant to all be working together to build up the quality of our schools, this is the biggest cut that Queensland schools have ever seen in their budgets, the biggest cut in this State’s history $6.29 billion.

 

We will make sure that every schools, every parent is well aware of the cuts which will come in over the next decade, and we will keep calling on Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman to do the right thing and to stand up for young Queenslanders. I might hand over to Yvette and then take any questions.

 

YVETTE D’ATH, QUEENSLAND SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: This is very serious for the future of our young people in Queensland. $6.29 billion, that’s what we know now is the impact from the Federal Budget on education for Queensland.

 

At a time when we’ve got ever increasing youth unemployment, we’ve got training fees going up, we’re going to have university fees going up, we’re not going to have any new Trade Training Centres being built in this State. Now we’re hearing that every single student is going to lose out because of Tony Abbott’s Budget.

 

It is time that Campbell Newman stands up for Queensland, fights for this money. It is not good enough for Tony Abbott to simply say that they’re going to rip $6.29 billion out of Queensland’s education budget into the future. We heard from the Minister for Education during Estimates that there is no plan for what is going to happen when this money ceases. They think it’s too far away to start worrying about, but the fact is schools need certainty; they plan well into the future. If this money is going to cease come 2018 for the school year, schools need to know about that right now.

 

This is over around $3 million per school that will be cut. So enough is enough, Campbell Newman needs to step up and start fighting for Queensland, fighting for our young people and making sure that we get our fair share of funds in this state.

 

JOURNALIST: Isn’t it really a Federal issue though? What role does the Premier have in this?

D’ATH: Well its $6.29 billion. He has a very important role. If we say that money we get from the Federal Government is not a State responsibility to fight for, who is going to fight for it?

 

Tony Abbott is happy to take this money away from Queensland. It is up to the State Premier to stand up and say that is not good enough. Our young people, our students need this funding, our schools need this funding. If the Federal Government’s not going to pay for it, where is this money going to come from?

 

JOURNALIST: The Newman Government argues that we’re better off under the Abbott Government because the Abbott Government has given us no strings attached money, and that it’s unlike Labor which didn’t promise money, because we didn’t sign up before the election that we didn’t necessarily have anything under Labor but we’ve got guarantees under Abbott, what’s your response to that?

 

D’ATH: Look we know what was being said in the lead up to the Federal Election was just a big con job by Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne. The fact is schools are worse off in Queensland for not signing up to Gonski, that’s the reality of it. And what we know is that when they talk about no strings attached it means that the Federal Government can hand this money over, the State can do whatever they want with it, the State can cut their own education budget at the same time as receiving this new money. Which means potentially no net gain for our schools and for our students.

 

We know that Gonksi would have delivered more funding, the fact is that not only have they not delivered the same amount of funding as schools would have got under Gonksi, we now know that they’re going to cut future funding from 2018. So this is much worse that just not signing up to Gonski. This is further cuts and basically the Federal Government’s saying it’s not our responsibility when it comes to education and health in the States anymore, we’re going to leave it to the States.

 

ELLIS: I think it’s clear that Campbell Newman is more interested in standing up for his political mates than he is in standing up for Queensland schools. It’s really important to recognise that the Federal Government promised the Australian people ‘no cuts to education’.

 

Before the last election, Christopher Pyne was saying that even 3 per cent indexation for school funding was a frightening prospect, what they’ve actually quietly announced in the Budget is more extreme than that. They have said that they will only increase education funding by CPI, which is currently about 2.5 per cent, despite the fact that we know that real education costs are increasing at about 5.1 per cent a year.

 

What this means is that despite throwing aside the Gonski agreements, on top of cutting years 5 and 6 funding for Gonski, this is also the biggest hit that Australian schools have ever seen. In walking away from fair indexation and suggesting that CPI is appropriate means that every student, every school, will suffer as a result of that decision, which nobody was told about before the election.

 

JOURNALIST:  And you were saying that schools were being affected now, can you tell us how they are being effected and give us some examples if you can?

 

ELLIS: Sure, look we know that at the moment Principals are planning for the future and we have heard from concerned principals.  [inaudible] other parts of Government, stripped from education and invested elsewhere so now is the time when Australians and when Queenslanders need to stand up and make clear that it should not be our school students that pay the price for Tony Abbott’s broken promises.

 

JOURNALIST: Can you summarise how Queensland compares to other states in terms of the lost funding?

 

ELLIS: Well we know that it’s around $30 billion nationally and for Queensland to bear the brunt of $6.29 billion means that every school in this state will be hit hard. We also know that because of the regional nature of a number of schools in Queensland, they can be more expensive to run, and to staff, and to adequately equip, so they will be hit really hard by this. The regions across Queensland will be hit hard.

 

But also we know at the moment that there is a huge gap in the level of education attainment depending on whether people live in a capital city or in the regions. And this is one of the main reasons that we need to increase the quality of our education, not see that gap increase even more, as education funding is cut to new record levels.