QTU President's comment 13 May 2015

Abbott and Hockey tear up "unity ticket"

QTU President
Kevin Bates

For the first time in living memory, school education and vocational education and training have been completely ignored in the annual budget speech delivered in federal Parliament last night.

The key budget outcomes for education in Australia appear to be limited to a $5 million allocation for an advertising campaign to encourage parental engagement in schools and an ill-conceived $17 million over four years to test teacher graduates for literacy and numeracy.

The budget does not deliver the Gonski school funding reform allocations for years 5 and 6: a decision that will deny schools, and the students they serve, two-thirds of the promised Gonski funding.

The budget does not deliver desperately needed improvements in funding for students with disability.

The budget does not deliver improvements for the vocational education and training sector or TAFE, with an expected fall in funding of more than 22 per cent over the next three years.

The 2014-15 budget foreshadowed cuts of more than $30 billion dollars to education over the next decade - this budget makes those cuts a reality. State governments have already identified these cuts to education, and $50 billion in cuts to health, as huge blows to states' interests and a betrayal of promises of investment in the future of our nation. Queensland will be $466 million worse off in terms of school funding over the next three years when compared to last year’s federal budget allocations.

The budget also cuts $7.6 million from the federal education department, with a further $123.4 million in cuts in coming years through the "smaller government" reform agenda.

Budget claims of greater education spending are generally limited to the impact of cost of living increases and enrolment growth. The real cost of education outstrips consumer price index increases. Anything less than the promised Gonski funding reform indexation, promised by both major parties in the election just 18 months ago, will leave education worse off.

Another of the controversial changes in the 2015-16 budget confirmed media reports from earlier this week that the federal government would, from July 2016, deny federal paid parental leave (PPL) to women who have access to employer PPL. The government cynically referred to these women as “double dippers”, revealing its true attitude towards supporting working women.

On all initial assessments, the Abbott/Hockey government's second budget is an epic fail for education in schools and TAFE.

Our decade long campaign to achieve equity of opportunity through funding for school students has been dealt a severe blow as a consequence of the abandonment of the promises on Gonski funding reforms. But the campaign is not over.

Teachers, students, parents and all fair-minded community members across the nation will renew our efforts to make school funding, and the delivery of promises in full, a very significant issue in the next federal election. No government will be allowed to show such contempt for the Australian people as to walk away from election commitments that deny millions of young Australians access to a better future.

To ensure that you receive the latest information on the Gonski campaign and to show your support, please sign up here. QTU members will soon be receiving more information on getting involved in the campaign to hold the Abbott government to account for its broken promises.

The analysis of the 2015-16 federal budget is ongoing and the QTU response will be updated over coming days. Please check back with the QTU website for the latest developments.

Kevin Bates