QTU President's comment | 10 October 2018
A commitment to invest $14.1 billion in state schools over a decade from 2020 places Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in an even stronger position on education in the lead up to the next federal election.
Following hard on the heels of last week’s early childhood education announcement, which provides certainty for universal access to 15 hours of education for all four-year-olds and a new commitment to 15 hours of education for all three-year-olds, today’s school funding announcement is a vindication of the strong Fair Funding Now! campaign being waged by teachers, principals, parents and community supporters.
The Morrison government has previously ‘nailed its colours to the mast’ by ignoring the significant needs of millions of students in state schools. This continued the attacks of the Abbott and Turnbull Liberal/National Party (LNP) governments in denying $1.9 billion in funding to state schools in 2018 and 2019 and making any future funding conditional upon adoption of a professionally abhorrent regime of ‘reforms’ by states and territories.
In the most recent desperate act, the misguided Prime Minister threatened to deny all funding to schools if the states and territories kept to their public position of not signing up to his plan to enforce disadvantage in state schools by denying the needs-based, sector blind funding deemed urgent in 2011 by the original Gonski Report. The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison model condemns 87% of state schools to receive less than the minimum level of resourcing
Two crucial positives emerge from this announcement by federal Labor. One is that the commitment to the first three years of funding, beginning in 2020, will smash through the Coalition’s 20% cap on federal funding as a share of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).
The second is that federal Labor’s plan maps out movement towards delivering 100% of the SRS to all schools, a core goal of our Fair Funding Now! campaign.
Queensland stands to gain $647 million in additional funding over that first three years, funding over and above that allocated by the Morrison government.
The 2020 commencement date jars a little, especially given that it will be close to the 10th anniversary of the delivery of the original Gonski Report, and it does nothing to restore the $1.9 billion denied to state schools in 2018 and 2019. However, it is a sensible timeline in that it is the first school year of the new term of federal government following the election to be held sometime in the next year.
It is not yet clear what expectations federal Labor will impose in return for this new funding commitment. QTU members, more than 45,500 teachers and principals, have clearly committed to oppose conditions that are deemed professionally inappropriate or that are developed without genuine consultation with Australia’s teachers and principals. That commitment remains in play whether Labor forms government or the LNP persists following the next election.
What is clear is that today’s announcement is a win for the Fair Funding Now! campaign and all its supporters; the teachers, principals and community members who know that fair funding for all children is critical to our nation’s future.