Interview with David Speers, Sky News PM Agenda: national funding agreement for schools

Transcript
  • Minister for Education
  • Leader of the House

DAVID SPEERS: Christopher Pyne, thank you for your time.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Pleasure.

DAVID SPEERS: You did promise before the election that every school dollar for dollar would be no worse off, whether you voted Liberal or Labor.  You agree that is what you said to voters?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well that is what we are delivering.

DAVID SPEERS: So that remains the case that no school dollar for dollar will be worse off?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well that is what we are delivering.  We are delivering more money than Labor would have delivered, $2.8 billion dollars over the next four years, Labor would have delivered 1.6 and I can say with absolute confidence that every school will get exactly the same amount of money, or in fact better now, than they would have if Labor had been elected, so they can’t be worse off, from anything that the Commonwealth does.

DAVID SPEERS: That’s the key, from anything that the Commonwealth does.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the States and Territories own and operate schools, David. 

DAVID SPEERS: Yes but under the deal that Labor was trying to get up and did with a number of States, there were written commitments from the States not to cut funding.  Have you secured that with Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well even under the Labor’s model pre-election, South Australia, which is a signatory to the model, have cut $230 million between now and 2017 from school funding.  So States and Territories make their own decisions in the end, all I can guarantee is that no State can be worse off as a result of anything that the Commonwealth has done.

DAVID SPEERS: So what’s the nature of these deals you have done with WA, Queensland and the Northern Territory? I see they are in-principle agreements but there is no guarantee that they won’t just take your money and cut their own funding?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well they will reflect the way the model is designed is implemented, but we also firmly believe that States and Territories should be as adult governments and they have their own electors to answer to. So if the Commonwealth gave the Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory their own money and they reduced their own funding, I think their voters would mark their down on their election days.

DAVID SPEERS: But shouldn’t you be using you money to get a guarantee from them that they won’t do that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think we should treat States and Territories like adults.

DAVID SPEERS: But you are essentially giving them money no strings attached?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the Government – the previous Government – gave South Australia with apparently conditions attached and they have cut $230 million between now and 2017.

DAVID SPEERS: But surely you can do better than that – surely you can do better than that as an adult government?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Our policy before the election, David, which was very - stated over and over again was that we would reduce the red tape and regulation, that we would treat the States and Territories like adults that we wouldn’t have strings attached or conditions on that money, and that’s exactly what we will deliver.

DAVID SPEERS: The agreement’s you have struck with them, does that involve the same model as the other States, and by that, the SRS per student funding model, will that be nationally consistent?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yes.

DAVID SPEERS: So they will receive exactly the same deal as the other States.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Correct.

DAVID SPEERS: Alright and can I ask you where you have found the money to do this?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well that will be revealed in MYEFO when we hand that down before the end of the year. 

DAVID SPEERS: Is it coming from within the education budget?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well we found savings that we think are fair and reasonable and in MYEFO all that will be revealed.

DAVID SPEERS: From within your budget?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well in MYEFO it will all be revealed.

DAVID SPEERS: But is it not a bit tricky to take money out of education to fund this?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I haven’t said that.  But in MYEFO it’ll all be revealed. 

DAVID SPEERS: It just looks a little bit odd that on Friday, three days ago, you couldn’t find this money, now suddenly you have.  When did you find …

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think that’s a fair question.  I mean I have been working on this for eleven weeks. Because when I got into government I discovered that Bill Shorten had left something of a wreckage behind, we know that he cut $1.2 billion out of school funding, we know that 3 jurisdictions, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland had never signed.  We had been told Victoria and Tasmania had signed up – they hadn’t. We had been told the Catholics had signed up – they hadn’t. So it was a complete mess. I spent the last eleven weeks working with my state colleagues. Last week we had a ministerial council meeting on Friday I felt that it was important to give all of those States and Territories certainty for 2014, while I continued to work with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and by yesterday I managed to secure in-principle agreement from those three jurisdictions.

DAVID SPEERS: It would have been, it would saved you a lot of grief, wouldn’t it, if you had found this money a week ago?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: There’s lots of things in politics that you would have rather do differently if you had a second chance, but you don’t get that chance in politics.

DAVID SPEERS: Have you had an internal win on this?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, students of Australia have had a win, David.  Students of Australia in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory won’t be treated as second class citizens that Bill Shorten intended to treat them if he had been re-elected.

DAVID SPEERS: And will any school be worse off?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Not from anything that the Commonwealth does.

DAVID SPEERS: Christopher Pyne, thank you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Thank you.

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