Radio Interview - Mix1049 Darwin - 28 April 2016

SUBJECT/S: NT Government ripping $140 million out of schools; Mr Turnbull’s cuts to Budget Based Services

KATIE WOOLF, HOST: Now joining me live in the studio is the Federal Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis. Good morning Kate.


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION:  Good morning, it’s great to be here.


WOOLF: Lovely to see you in the Territory and of course Labor’s candidate for Solomon, Luke Gosling, good morning.


LUKE GOSLING, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR SOLOMON: Good morning Katie, how are you?


WOOLF: Yes good. Great to see you as well. You know it’s the dry season when all the pollies are all out in force. Both of you guys are are all the time.


ELLIS: With your schedule in regards to elections this year, you’re going to be fatigued from pollies.


WOOLF: Yes we are…


ELLIS: Two elections in a couple of months.


WOOLF: We’re all feeling that way. We could be quite election fatigued. But I always think it’s great to see Federal pollies of both sides here in the Northern Territory because we like to hear about exactly what Territorians can expect, especially a week out from Budget as we are.  And of course education has been high on the agenda, federally from Labor’s perspective what are the main concerns when it comes to education funding for our children here in the Territory?


ELLIS: Well I guess the biggest concern is one the Turnbull Government have announced huge cuts over the next ten years, but more so they also have a policy where they do nothing to stop state or territory governments from also cutting school funding. Now what that means is that Labor has announced a significant boost to our schools, we think that education is a priority and Luke and I had the opportunity to announce yesterday that what that means here in the Territory is in just the two years, of 2018 and 2019, there will be an additional $115 million flowing to Territory schools if Labor is elected in the upcoming Federal election.


WOOLF: Now the Member for Solomon, Natasha Griggs says that the Coalition Government is not cutting education funding, which and in fact she said will continue to increase from its current record levels with a record $64.9 billion spend between 2015-16 and 2018-19. I mean do you feel as though that’s the case Luke?


GOSLING: No it’s not and in the last election obviously the Coalition went to the election saying that they were on a ‘unity ticket’ with us on education which was a total lie to the Australian people, just for Mr Abbott to get into office. But of course they didn’t sign up to the Gonski plan which is a needs-based funding model which is going to be an incredible boost to Territory schools. And mums and dads out there know that when they send their kids off to school here in the Territory they’re facing some disadvantages and a lot of those disadvantages are because we’ve got a Northern Territory Government who is taking funding away from our schools. Now so what Labor’s committed to is we know how important education is for our kids to have the jobs of the future but also for us to develop the North. So we’re committed to education but we’re putting our money behind that to make sure that our kids get that individual attention that they need for the future, and that’s important for the future of the Territory. Labor prioritises education and unfortunately the Coalition doesn’t.


WOOLF: We always, I guess we hear a lot when it comes to funding both on a Territory level and also on a Federal level, not just in education but in all facets of Government, you know to the mums and dads out there who are listening, changes to education funding, where does that really hit? And how does that sort of affect our children?


ELLIS: Fantastic question. The issue is that what we’re talking about $115 million additional for Territory schools so that every child in every school can get the individual attention that they need and deserve. It means that we can have in place more literacy and numeracy programs. We can step in and help those children who start to fall behind. But equally those children who are excelling we can make sure that we keep them inspired and occupied with other things. It means that we have the resources to provide additional support for students with disability or special needs. It means that we can have more programs, whether it may be in speech pathology, a range of other issues which are really important to children’s education. I guess my response to Natasha Griggs would be the facts are we’re talking is Labor is elected there will be an additional $115 million in 2018 and 2019. Is she going to say that the Territory is better off without that money or is she going to stand up to Malcolm Turnbull and ask him to match the offer?


WOOLF: Now of course the question always is when it comes to this funding or when it comes to budgets, where will the funding for the additional education spend come from? Presumably it’s going to have to come from another area that’s going to miss out.


ELLIS: That’s right. We’ve made clear that education is our priority. So we’ve announced over $100 billion in savings. That comes from areas such as superannuation co-contributions, stamping out multinational tax loopholes which we think is really important. But also hard decisions like the tobacco excise which we had to put in place. We’ve also announced that Labor will end some of the current spending programs of the Turnbull Government. We’ll end for example the billions of dollars which are currently flowing towards heavy polluting companies and we will also end the baby bonus which Malcolm Turnbull has announced that he would reintroduce, this was part of his deal with the National Party when he became Prime Minister. So what that means is that we are talking about spending $37 billion over the next ten years for our schools but we’ve announced over $100 billion in savings initiatives. So we can fund our priorities but also so we can put some of that money back towards Budget repair.


WOOLF: Of course we are getting fairly close to Federal election, we think, we don’t know exactly when it’s happening.


ELLIS: July 2, is the very hot tip.


WOOLF: It’s the very hot tip. The day after Territory Day for us, Luke is going to hard for us do you reckon, to go out and vote after we’ve been letting fireworks off all night?


GOSLING: It’s going to be interesting. It’s a really busy time of the year. I look forward to between now and then, I just want to say that we didn’t bring on Australia’s longest ever election. That’s been Malcolm Turnbull’s, he’s panicked, he’s not too sure what he’s about. But I think it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t have a focus on educating our kids. I read to my daughter Sally every night and she’s almost four years old and she started going to preschool. And as I was reading to her the other night I got a word wrong, it was ‘meet’, and I turned the page and she said “no go back a page dad, that was ‘greet’ not ‘meet’” and I was like, you know how to read…


WOOLF: They listen, they know what’s going on.


GOSLING: They know what’s going on. But part of the reason for that is because she’s had some good early childhood education. But she’s now going to preschool and she’s picking up so much. And on the occasions that I drop her off at her preschool and talk to the teachers, I can just see how passionate they are about the job they do and we’ve entrusted teachers and schools to look after our kids. But the parents out there know that the Territory, we’re doing okay but we can do a lot better, and this $115 million worth of funding…


ELLIS: Careful Luke. I thought you very trying to get another $35 million.


WOOLF: Get a bit extra there. Try your luck, why not.


GOSLING: Why not. Sorry $115 million, at this stage, funding for our schools is really going to help our kids and their futures. And that’s good for the Territory economy as well. Because we don’t want to become a fly in fly out capital of the North. We want to develop our own kids, we want them to have the jobs of the future. To do that we need to invest in our kids’ education. So I’m proud that Labor’s doing that.


WOOLF: Kate, what else is on the agenda for you while you are in the Northern Territory?


ELLIS: Well Luke is keeping me pretty busy. Unfortunately it is a short trip. But we’re about to actually head out and see one of the local early education services. It’s a service who’s funding is under threat at the moment. So we’re heading out there to have a look and to make sure that we can continue to stand up, you’ve just heard how passionate Luke is about all forms of education including early childhood education. So he’s taking me out to see one of these local services and to try and make sure that we can ensure that they’re there for years to come. We know that education is really important but we also know that that starts really young and that if we can invest in children, in giving them that love of learning, that love of reading and that love of play time that is educational, then that sets them up for life. So I’m looking forward to seeing those local services and then sadly I have to pop on a plane and head back home to Adelaide. But I’m sure that Luke’s not going to find it too hard to twist my arm and get me back up here. It is a beautiful part of the world and a fantastic time of the year to be here too.


WOOLF: Absolutely. We will see plenty of politicians no doubt.


ELLIS: I want to be back for Territory Day but unfortunately that might be a bit busy.


WOOLF: It will be I reckon. Thank you very much Kate Ellis, the Shadow Minister for Education and Luke Gosling, Labor’s candidate for Solomon.  


ELLIS: Great to be with you.


GOSLING: Thanks Katie.