Radio Interview - ABC Northern Tasmania - 1 April 2016

SUBJECT/S:  COAG; Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to walk away from public education.

JOURNALIST: Kate Ellis is with me this afternoon, good afternoon Minister. 


KATE ELLIS: Good afternoon Fred, great to be with you. 


JOURNALIST: What do you think the new funding arrangements should be?


ELLIS: Well, Labor has put forward our fully funded, fully costed education policies which would see funding certainty for Australian schools over the next ten years, as well as seeing out the existing federal-state school funding agreements which are in place and we would deliver those agreements in full and on time. That's Labor’s commitment and we think that the Liberal party and Prime Minister Turnbull need to match that. Unfortunately, what we have seen in recent days is about as far removed from matching that as you can get, that being that, it’s extraordinary that today we had Australia's Prime Minister put forward a proposal  for the National Government to completely wash their hands of any responsibility for our public schools. Now it’s good news that that proposal fell over today, but what's incredibly concerning and what your own Premier has acknowledged is that we still have total uncertainty about the future of Commonwealth school funding and as a result of today's meeting the only decision that was taken in regard to that is that they'll deal with it in a year’s time. That’s not good enough for Australia's schools and it is certainly not good enough for Australia's students. 


JOURNALIST: Should Government Schools be funded by State Governments instead of Commonwealth Government?


ELLIS: Well at the moment both the Commonwealth and State Governments play a role in the funding of schools and we think that's really important. This whole proposal to just handover public schools to the states to run, it actually ignores the fact that in recent years we've seen a number of State Governments introduce some very deep cuts to school funding and it also flies in the face of evidence which suggests that if we want to boost Australia's future economic growth, if we want to ensure that Australia is as internationally competitive as possible into the future which are key roles of the Commonwealth Government that you can’t do that adequately without ensuring that we have a world class education system. For the Federal Government to abandon public schools would be really just walking away from core responsibilities of Government and that is to ensure that we have the skills for the jobs of the future. 


JOURNALIST: Without proposals like this would current models of funding have any chance of moving forward though? 


ELLIS: Well at the moment, we come from a place where in recent years we actually went through the biggest review of school funding in over 40 years. We came up with an analysis of the problems in our schools but also the solutions and the way forward and that was the so-called Gonski reforms, sector-blind, needs-based funding to ensure that every student in every school got the support that they need for a great education. 


Now the states and the Commonwealth came on board, signed up to agreements, at the last Federal election the now Federal Government told the Australia voters that they were on a unity ticket and that there was no difference between Liberal and Labor when it came to school funding, and now we have a Prime Minister who is both threatening to cut $30 billion from our schools, the biggest cut to Australia's schools in the nation’s history, this week abandoned public schools altogether but says that he recognizes the importance of the Federal Government continuing to fund private schools. Like this would almost be a joke if it wasn't so incredibly serious and so important for our nation’s future. 


JOURNALIST: Kate Ellis, Shadow Minister for Education and Early Childhood thanks a lot. 


ELLIS: Great to be with you, thank you.