Federal Budget 2017

On 9 May, Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down the 2017 federal budget. This is a brief summary of its contents.

School funding

Based on the limited details provided by the federal government thus far, the Queensland Government has calculated that approximately $300 million could be denied to Queensland state schools.

Since the Turnbull government’s federal budget announcement, there is only one certainty: school funding after 2017 is still very uncertain. The QTU notes the “needs-based funding” rhetoric that is intended to suggest a significant shift in the current federal government’s policy position on school funding. However, given the details available at publication, the proposed funding model cannot effectively be described as needs-based. As always, the devil is in the detail.

Members may have come across the Turnbull government’s new school funding calculator. As the federal government does not provide direct funding to any school, it is unclear how the funding figures have been calculated. The government has been called upon to release the underlying data so that its calculations can be verified. However, this has not been forthcoming. As a result, schools have no clear idea of what funding they will receive going into next year. The lack of detail and clear communication only perpetuates uncertainty, and in no way has this announcement worked towards supporting further improved outcomes for Queensland state schools or Queensland students.

Less funding, more work

On top of the decreased funding, the Turnbull government is proposing to attach conditions from the Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes policy.

The attached conditions include:

  • year one phonics testing
  • NAPLAN-style testing and reporting on literacy and numeracy outcomes for every year of schooling 
  • performance based pay for teachers 
  • national principal certification 
  • creation of nationally available data on students, schools and teachers.

This detail should stir serious concerns for QTU members, as these are similar conditions to those we fought against when the Newman government released the Great Teachers = Great Results policy. QTU State Council has already foreshadowed a ballot to boycott the phonics test for six-year-olds.

TAFE funding

Despite the rhetoric about quality educational outcomes in schools, vocational education and training has, once again, been neglected. With the demand for skilled workers continuing to rise, it is unfathomable that TAFE all around Australia continues to suffer funding losses. Without continued support and resurgence in funding, TAFE will struggle as private providers engage in profiteering while providing little effective training. It should be noted that in the budget reply, Bill Shorten announced that a Labor government would restore TAFE as the centre of Australia’s training system by establishing a $100 million Building TAFE for the Future Fund. Additionally, Labor pledged that two out of every three dollars spent on public vocational education will be allocated to TAFE.

Early childhood education

The Turnbull government has extended funding arrangements to early childhood education for 12 months. While the additional $428 million to continue Commonwealth support for preschool is a welcomed announcement, a 12-month extension offers no certainty and is far from the guarantee that is needed.

Commonwealth paid parental leave (CPPL)

After repeated attempts to discard Commonwealth funded paid parental leave, the threat of cuts to CPPL is now off the table. This is a testament to the thousands of people who engaged in campaigning and fought to keep the 18 weeks of paid parental leave.

Giau Nguyen
Acting Industrial Research Officer

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 4, 2 June 2017, p10