Labor's positive plan for schools; Private health insurance


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: The release today of the state-by-state figures demonstrates clearly just how every child in every school in every state and territory will benefit from Labor's announced education funding policy. What we've seen is that we will fund some $4.5 billion over the years 2018 and 2019 to ensure our schools have the resources and the support that every student needs.

Today's release of the figures shows a number of things. It shows that South Australian schools would be hit the hardest if the Liberal Government's cuts were allowed to proceed. We know that some 82 per cent of funding in the signed education agreements with South Australia is due to flow in years five and six of the agreement, which the Liberal Government is pledging to cut.

We know that no student, no family, wants to see these massive cuts here in South Australia. The difference when it comes to South Australian schools is $415 million. This is a figure that has been independently costed, and we know will make a real difference to every child's education.

$415 million additional dollars in South Australian schools will mean more of the literacy and numeracy support that we know our students rely upon and deserve. It will mean more individual attention. It will mean that students with disability get more of the support they need and deserve. And it means that we have the best in increasing teacher quality in every school right around the state.

Of course, we know that each and every state and territory will benefit from these figures. NSW schools would be the biggest beneficiaries on a dollar figure, with some $1.6 billion pledged to flow in 2018 and 2019. $1.6 billion should be more than enough motivation for Mike Baird and his Government to stand up to Malcolm Turnbull and say that New South Wales cannot afford their cuts to school, and needs Labor's positive plan for every child and every school.

We know that Victorian schools will benefit from some $960 million, under Labor's plan to ensure that every school and every child has all the support that they need and deserve.

We know that in Queensland schools, the independent costing shows that it is the difference of $855 million if Labor's plan for every child and every school is adopted, or if Malcolm Turnbull's massive cuts to schools are allowed to continue.
And we know Western Australian schools would benefit hugely, by $390 million in 2019 and 2019, under Labor's positive plan which has been independently costed and is fully funded.

Tasmanian schools stand to be $70 million better off under Labor's fully funded, fully costed policy for years 2018 and 2019. But of course beyond that, we know that we will reverse all of Malcolm Turnbull's cuts which will affect every child in every school.

And in the ACT, it is $30 million difference to every child's education, to every school if Labor's positive plan for schools is adopted.

Of course, this is fully funded, this has been independently costed, but we know we are not just talking about dollars, we are talking about having the resources to invest in the programs that are making a difference. We know that we need to focus on investment in evidence based policies, so that we can lift Australia's educational achievement. So that we can put Australia back at the front of the pack. We know that Australia's economic future depends on well-resourced and supported schools. Malcolm Turnbull can talk all he likes about innovation, but if you are ripping billions of dollars out of Australia's schools, that's all it is - talk. It will do nothing to provide every Australian student with the skills they need for the jobs of the future.

The figures released today show that this is about every child. It is about every school. And it is about every state and territory who will benefit from this policy announced by Bill Shorten and the Labor party this week.

JOURNALIST: Tell us a bit about the state-by-state breakdown, how is that being worked out so that states who need the money, I guess is that dependent on how many students there are and that kind of thing?

ELLIS: These figures have been independently costed from the Parliamentary Budget Office. But we know this is about returning the money that the Turnbull Government have ripped out of those states. This is about honouring the agreements that were signed, that Christopher Pyne when he was education minister, tore up. This is about reversing the $30 billion in cuts that Malcolm Turnbull has announced for our schools over the next decade. Those cuts, if they were allowed to proceed would equate to ripping one out of every seven teachers from the classroom, we know that that will send Australia backwards. This is about the chance to get our social policy right, to invest in every child, to make sure that we give everybody the chance to succeed in life. But it's also about this nation's economic policy. We need to be internationally competitive, and we cannot afford to proceed with Malcolm Turnbull's biggest ever cuts to Australian schools.

JOURNALIST: On another issue Kate, do you welcome the Government cracking down on private health insurance rates?

ELLIS: Look we're yet to see the detail of the Government's proposal and of course we will sit down and have a look at it. But I think that Australians are right to be sceptical about this Government when it comes to health. We have seen this Government rip $60 billion out of our health system. We have seen this Government approve the two biggest hikes in private health insurance in the last decade. We will look at the detail, but this Government has a dreadful record when it comes to delivering quality healthcare for Australians.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that then private health customers will inundate the public system if prices are too high?

ELLIS: Look, we are concerned about the impact of the Turnbull Government's policies on our public hospitals. We already know that they have ripped $60 billion from the health system and this will place pressure on each and every hospital and we don't want to see the damage get any worse.

JOURNALIST: Should private customers say then well we're not going to pay any more, we are just going to go public?

ELLIS: Look as we've said, we will look at the detail of this policy, but what we have seen is that this is a Government with a dreadful track record of supporting our public hospitals, and we don't trust them not to make it worse.