Questions without Notice - Education Funding

Monday, 02 December 2013

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:57): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Senator Payne. I refer to the comments made by the Minister for Education on 30 August, when he said:

… we are committed to the student resource standard, of course we are. We are committed to this new school funding model.

Will the minister keep his promise?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:57): I thank the senator for her question and congratulate her on her swearing in earlier today as a senator for New South Wales. What I am certainly able to indicate to the chamber is that we are committed to our national needs based funding model that works, and is fair and equitable. The difference between our commitment and that of the previous government would be that an equitable funding model includes all states and territories and does not leave out Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The difference between this model and that of the previous government would be that our model is fully national. That is, again, revelatory I know; but it includes all states and territories, not leaving out Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. That model may include a number of issues, like loadings for students with high needs. It will not treat students in the states and territories that were previously excluded by the former government as second-class citizens.

That is why we are replacing the $1.2 billion of funding that Mr Shorten, as the education minister, ripped out of schools funding in this country. Whether one is a member of the House of Representatives or a member of the Senate, I am still able to say that there is only one party in this place that has taken money out of school funding, and that is the Labor Party.

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:59): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the government committed to the student resource standard and the funding model under the Better Schools Plan agreed with all state and territory governments?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (14:59): What I have said previously is that the coalition is delivering a national funding model for schools, which includes the additional $2.8 billion in funding over the next four years. We also do not believe that money is the only element in better educational outcomes in Australia. What about parental control and principal control? What about the red tape and the extra—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator O'Neill is entitled to hear the answer to the question.

Senator PAYNE: As I said very clearly in my answer to a previous question from those opposite, we will honour the funding deals reached with the states over a four-year period as promised. We will work with Victoria and Tasmania to finalise bilateral agreements so that funding to those states can flow. We will also give Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory the same amount of funding that was committed by Labor, even though they did not sign the National Education Reform Agreement. We have already made arrangements so that $230 million of funding will flow to them for 2014. This will allow us, as the government, sufficient opportunity to formalise those new heads of agreement with those three jurisdictions. Those students are entitled to that money. (Time expired)

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (15:01): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Why is the government breaking its promises to state governments, parents, teachers and students, particularly with the student resource standard?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Human Services) (15:01): This government are absolutely committed to keeping its promises as enunciated by me several times earlier today. We are not breaking promises. We are not the party that took money out of education; those opposite are.

Senator Abetz: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.

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