Doorstop Interview - 27 April 2016

SUBJECT/S: NT Government ripping $140 million out of schools; Mr Turnbull’s failure to keep states accountable on schools; Labor’s Your Child. Our Future plan; submarine announcement

LUKE GOSLING, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR SOLOMON: Good afternoon everyone. My name’s Luke Gosling and I’m the Labor candidate for the seat of Solomon, which is of course Darwin and Palmerston, and it’s great to be out in Palmerston today. In fact out the front of the Woodroffe Primary School. As a candidate, as Labor’s candidate for Solomon I’m going to be fighting for more funds for our schools and what I’m really proud of is that Labor has a needs-based funding model that is going to put back the funding that was ripped out by the Liberals, so our kids have a red hot go at the jobs of the future and really developing the North. So I’m really appreciative that our Shadow Minister Kate has come up to join us today, and I’ll hand over to Kate. Thank you.


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Fantastic. Well thank you very much Luke. It’s wonderful to have such a committed candidate to fight for Territory schools. It’s also great to be back here in the Northern Territory. I stand here because the Labor Party knows just how important education is to this nation’s future. We know that we need a strong school system to make sure that every child has the best opportunity, but also to ensure that our country has the skills we need for the jobs of future and a strong economy. I stand here today proudly stating that under a Labor Government there will be an additional $115 million flowing to schools across the Northern Territory in just 2018 and 2019. That’s an additional $115 million in two years under Labor than if the Turnbull Government is re-elected. Now this is particularly important because I stand here in the Northern Territory noting that this is the only State or Territory in the entire country where funding for Government schools is going backwards. In fact what we do know is that the Territory Government has redirected $140 million out of local schools. Now this is absolutely shameful and it’s absolutely shameful of the Territory Government but it’s also because the Turnbull Government have turned a blind eye. We stand here today and we announce that under Labor’s policy not only will there be additional funds flowing to our schools making sure that we can have the evidence based programs in place to make sure that every child gets the attention they deserve. But we also say that we will stop the cuts which have been put in place by the Territory Government and other state governments. Under our education funding model, the additional funding from Canberra comes on the condition that the Territory Government stops their cuts and that they put in place their own co-contributions. So we know that if families across the Northern Territory believe that every school should be a great school then they have one option in a couple of months’ time and that is to vote Labor.


JOURNALIST: Can you or Luke explain this new analysis of the NT budget papers?


ELLIS: We certainly can. What we know is that the Federal Government’s own budget papers show that there has been an additional $100 million flowing from Canberra to the Northern Territory which is meant to go towards our schools. Yet the Territory budget papers show that there is $40 million less going to Territory schools now than there was at the last Territory election. So what we know is that that is $140 million turnaround that has been redirected away from our schools, away from our children, away from the evidence based programs which we know that we need to be investing in to make sure that everybody gets a great education.


JOURNALIST: Does this require a commitment from the NT Government, a Labor NT Government given that it’s an election year here as well?


ELLIS: Look, we’ve certainly seen that the NT Government has given up opportunities to commitment to education, to sign up to Gonski reforms, to invest in our schools and to join with the rest of the nation in signing up for needs-based funding. But we certainly do know that Territorians deserve a local government who does recognise the importance of education and I hope that we’ll see a change in the Government and we’ll see NT Labor stand up and commit to stop the cuts. But also to prioritise education, not just because we believe in education as being a transformative power to change people’s lives but because we know that the local economy and the national economy relies upon us lifting the educational standards right across Australia. Now that’s particularly important here, because all of the evidence shows that our schools are falling further behind we you go to regional or remote schools of which we know the Territory has many.


JOURNALIST: The Territory Government says that educational outcomes are improving despite of cuts. If that is the case then why is it such a big deal?


ELLIS: Well we know what improves educational outcomes. We know that early learning intervention programs improve educational outcomes. We know that increased literacy and numeracy support improve educational outcomes. These are the things that make a difference and all of them require resources. Now the Territory Government can stand there and say that the thing that improves our schools is ripping $140 million out of it if they like. But I don’t think local families are going to buy that.


JOURNALIST: So what would a Labor Government actually do, do you have any figures on the funding or any specific policies?


ELLIS: Well absolutely. We’ve released Labor’s Your Child. Our Future policy which has specific commitments across the board as well as having figures both for the final two years of the existing funding agreements but also for the next ten years. This is a $37 billion commitment for our schools over the next ten years. It means an extra $115 million in Territory schools in just two years, in 2018 and 2019. But it also commits that this funding will go towards the programs that are evidence based that we know make a difference. So it means that we’ll more early intervention, it means that we’ll have a greater commitment to literacy and numeracy and making sure that children don’t fall behind. It means that we will see that students will disability or special needs have the additional support that they require in our classrooms and in our schools. It means that we will continue to ensure that we have extension programs for those children who may require more, that each child will get more individual attention. We have released our comprehensive education policy and all that the Turnbull Government has before us is billions of dollars in cuts to our schools.


JOURNALIST: You’re committing to records of funding in your education policy. How are you going to pay for it considering we’re already in a Budget crisis?


ELLIS: I think that’s a really important question and it’s one of the reasons why we made sure that we made some quite hard announcements before we announced our education policy. The Labor Opposition have now announced over $100 billion in savings measures that is $100 billion from a number of different initiatives which are designed to ensure that we can redirect funds to our priority areas or that we can redirect funds also towards budget repair. Of that we’ve announced $100 billion in savings and we’ve announced a $37 billion education policy. So we are confident that this fully costed and fully funded.


JOURNALIST: So this $100 billion, where exactly is the $100 billion, where exactly is this $100 billion coming from?


ELLIS: Well for example, we’ve announced the increase to tobacco excise, we’ve announced the superannuation co-contribution changes, hosing down on multinational tax loopholes, are some examples. But we’ve also announced a number of Turnbull Government programs which we would discontinue, including discontinuing paying billions of dollars towards big polluting companies. But also discontinuing the baby bonus that Malcolm Turnbull pledged to re-introduce as part of his deal with the National Party to become Prime Minister. We’re really confident that we have a comprehensive list of savings measures because we know that Government is about priorities and Labor proudly says the education is our priority and education needs to be this nation’s priority.


JOURNALIST: Can I just ask on one other issue, the Daily Telegraph today has described your state of South Australia as a failed state, as a sub-standard state and has effectively said that the Government is now propping up South Australia by awarding this submarine contract and the shipbuilding in South Australia. Should taxpayers be propping up the South Australian economy?


ELLIS: Well taxpayers should be making sure that we make the smartest decisions when it comes to defence procurement and what we know is that it’s smart to make sure that our submarines are built here, that they can be repaired here and by here I mean in Australia and particularly I mean in South Australia. We know that before the last Federal election there was a very clear promise that there would be 12 submarines built in Adelaide, now the Abbott Government tried to walk away from that promise and South Australians made very clear how we feel about this. This is the right decision for South Australia but more broadly it is the right decision for Australia and we welcome the belated announcement yesterday.


JOURNALIST: There are reports though that these submarines can be built 30-40 percent cheaper if they weren’t built in Australia. Aren’t we just bailing out the South Australian economy, an economy that the Labor Government there has basically taken its eye off the wheel and left to fall away?


ELLIS: Look, South Australia has been hit particularly hard by the Federal Liberal Government. First we had them drive the car industry out of Adelaide. We’ve seen some devastating news in terms of Holden. And then we saw them try and walk away from their commitment to submarines. What we do know is that in the long term it makes much more sense in terms of our national security and in terms of our national economy also that we build our submarines locally and that we make sure that we keep that knowledge on Australian soil.


JOURNALIST: There seems to be a little bit of wiggle room in this contract. Are you concerned that the Government may allow the French to wriggle out of that commitment to build the first submarine in Australia?


ELLIS: Look certainly we need to see more detail when it comes to these announcements and we know that these can be quite complicated contractual negotiations. But at this stage we welcome the announcement yesterday. We look forward to seeing more information and I can assure you that I and every other South Australian Labor Member will keep the pressure on the Federal Government to make sure that they deliver this as promised yesterday.