Interview with Leon Byner and Jay Weatherill 5AA Adelaide

Transcript
  • Minister for Education
  • Leader of the House

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
Interview with Leon Byner and Jay Weatherill 5AA Adelaide
28 November 2013

SUBJECT: School funding


LEON BYNER:

Thanks Jay for joining us today.

JAY WEATHERILL:

Thanks Leon.

LEON BYNER:

What is essentially the difference it would make to students education given that the Federal Government have basically changed their minds after twelve months?

JAY WEATHERILL:

Yeah, a couple of things. After four years there is $400 billion that is at stake we would lose in our school system and during the period of now and then it is difficult to follow what the federal minister is talking about. Because he is now talking about the whole funding formula being up for grabs. Remember he’s talked previously favourably about the previous funding formula which favoured the richest schools. So essentially our system, which the Gonski system was based on needs so the schools that needed the resources the most got the resources is now being thrown out and Mr Pyne seems to be attracted to the old system which funnelled the money into the richest schools. So basically he has thrown out the fundamental principle of fairness which underpins Gonski and I think that is probably the most alarming thing about what he has said in the last few days.

LEON BYNER:

Alright. Christopher Pyne is on the line, the education minister. Christopher, good morning. How do you answer what Jay Weatherill has just said?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well good morning Leon and good morning Jay. Well Mr Weatherill is being something of an alarmist. And I am not surprised because he would rather distract the South Australian public from his managing of the Department of Education as the Minister and the Premier in South Australia. The first priority of any education system should be to protect children and in South Australia the Department of Education and the Labor Government have manifestly failed to protect children.

LEON BYNER:

Yes but Chis that being the case, we are talking today about funding reforms that before the election the electorate might have thought that whether they got Tony Abbott as Prime Minister or Kevin Rudd it was going to be the same. Now they are told after the election it is not.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

No, that is not quite right, Leon. We are talking about quality education for our children which is not just about funding. We have said before the election that we would match Labor dollar for dollar in a funding model, and that’s exactly what we are doing so there is no change to that promise. In fact we are putting $230 million more in than if Labor had been re-elected because we are making sure that Queensland and Northern Territory and Western Australia are not treated like second-class citizens like the Labor, the federal Labor Government, intended to do.

LEON BYNER:

Tony Abbott when he was in Opposition promised, and it is on the record, that no school would be worse off. Are you going to stick to that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well we promised that we would have exactly the same funding envelope as Labor. And now the only state that has implemented a new funding model, and remember there is a different model in every state and territory, there is no such thing as a national model in education, Labor has left us with a Shorten Shambles when it comes to the model. The only state that has implemented a model which is NSW, 200 schools are worse off. Because the fundamental flaw in a Federal Government making the claim that no school will ever be worse off is of course we don’t actually implement the funding model on the ground, that’s left to the States.

LEON BYNER:

But Tony Abbott made that promise.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

No, Tony Abbott said we would match Labor dollar for dollar and that’s exactly what we are doing, in fact we are putting $230 million more in. But Leon, education is more about funding. It is also about teacher quality, parental engagement, local decision making, robust curriculum…

LEON BYNER:

Alright.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

…and unfortunately in South Australia it is about the protection of our children which is so bad that a policeman is now heading up the Department of Education.

LEON BYNER:

Okay, let’s let Jay Weatherill answer that, Jay?

JAY WEATHERILL:

Well Leon that (inaudible) that Mr Pyne has misled your listeners… what happened in the last federal election is that Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne, made it very clear, the impression they wanted to, the people of Australia have in their minds is that there is no difference between Labor and Liberal when it came to school funding.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

That’s true.

JAY WEATHERILL:

Now basically after the election he has turned his back on that promise because he has got himself elected and he is now throwing all those balls up in the year talking about renegotiating the funding formula, refusing to repeat his commitment that no school would be worse off, any worse off under the Liberals. Now that is an outrage, people are entitled to feel cheated about the democratic process being used and abused in that way and I think that it is very alarming to hear Mr Pyne talking about the last funding formula that was only in place under Mr Howard that delivered resources that go to the richest schools, much more resources that go to richest schools than they go to the poorest schools. And that’s the essence of the Gonski model about fairness, it was about making sure each individual child, whether they had learning difficulties or whether they were very talented children, they had the resources they needed to be the very best child they could be. And now the parents of Australia and in particular in South Australia, my concern, are being cheated out of that because what I think is a very dishonest attempt to try and get into government on one basis, and then govern on a completely different basis.

LEON BYNER:

Jay, what political penalty are you talking about?

JAY WEATHERILL:

I will be campaigning every day on this issue until Mr Pyne admits he’s wrong and reverses his position.

LEON BYNER:

Christopher Pyne, how do you feel about that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well Jay will do anything to distract the South Australia public from his economic mismanagement of South Australia and his tutelage of the Department of Education as the Minister for Education and Premier. Of course he would try and talk about funding, he would rather talk about anything other…

LEON BYNER:

Can I ask you about this…

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

…than the protection of our children in schools.

LEON BYNER:

Chris, can I ask you this…we are talking today about funding. Can you give a guarantee to South Australians today that the needy schools will get the funding that they require and that no school will be worse off?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well I don’t think it is a very sensible thing for federal ministers to make promises that they cannot keep, for example that no school would ever be worse off, because we don’t make the decision in the end as whether if they are or not.

LEON BYNER:

Hang on, Tony Abbott said that would be the case.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

No he didn’t, he said that we would keep exactly the same funding envelope as Labor and that is exactly what we will do. But Jay Weatherill implements the model in the end, Jay Weatherill and his Government do. So how can I make a promise that only Jay Weatherill can keep, that would be very foolish. What I can tell you though is that the new funding model will be fair, and equitable, it will needs based, and it will focus on teacher quality, robust curriculum, getting the money where it is needed to be.

LEON BYNER:

Gonski did all that already…

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

There is no national Gonski model, Leon. The model is different in every state and territory. In fact three jurisdictions never signed up, two didn’t sign on the bottom line, only three jurisdictions – South Australia, the ACT and New South Wales ever signed a contract with the federal government. So the reality is there is no national model, that is completely misleading and Jay of course Jay would rather talk about funding. He would much rather talk about funding than the terrible results that South Australia has been seeing in their students, declining for the last ten years, under Labor in South Australia.

LEON BYNER:

How are you going to improve the outcomes in classrooms?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

We are going to focus on teacher quality, which every parent and grandparent knows is vitally important because you can have a very high quality teacher in a school producing great outcomes but you cannot have a high quality – you can’t have a poor quality teacher producing great outcomes no matter what the infrastructure in the school.

LEON BYNER:

Are you going – are you going to remove teachers of the classroom that are poor quality, how will you determine that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well that is a matter for Jay Weatherill. Yet again, Jay Weatherill runs our state schools.

LEON BYNER:

But hang on a minute, you are announcing, I’m just trying to work through this, what you are saying for instance.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Yes.

LEON BYNER:

You will focus on teacher quality?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Yes.

LEON BYNER:

Ok. But then you will say you will get rid of the - or remove or move on the teachers that aren’t as good and replace them with those who are but you want Jay to do that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

No, you have confused two things. What I can do is the training of teachers at university level because the Commonwealth is responsible for that.

LEON BYNER:

Alright.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

What Jay can do is move on teachers in schools in South Australia that aren’t measuring up if that’s the case. But he will never do that because he is far too close to the teachers’ union in South Australia.

LEON BYNER:

Alright, I want you to hear this Chris, stay on the line.

Excerpt Tony Abbott: We will make sure that no school is worse off.

LEON BYNER:

Okay, who said that? Recognise the voice?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Within the funding envelope that we have been left. And Bill Shorten reduced that by $1.2 billion. But we will make sure that we do everything we can to ensure that the funding envelope that Labor promised is the one that we deliver which is $1.6 billion over the next four years.

LEON BYNER:

Jay what do you say to that?

JAY WEATHERILL:

Well Leon that doesn’t pass the common sense test. If you actually bring in the same amount of money or a bit extra, it’s going to be spread more thinly. So of course there is going to be schools that are going to be worse off. It is a direct contradiction to the quote you just played from the Prime Minister. Now look Christopher Pyne has made a mistake, the whole of the nation is telling him he made a mistake. He should just admit it, Christopher, and get on with it and sit down and implement this reform, the reforms that you promised the Australian people that you would implement.

LEON BYNER:

Chris?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

We will make sure we will get the best outcomes possible for our students in the areas that the Commonwealth is responsible for, like teacher training. We will also make sure our schools are funded on a needs basis in a model that actually works. The model that was left to us by Bill Shorten and Jay Weatherill is quite incomprehensible. Most state and territories aren’t in it, they cut $1.2 billion from it…

LEON BYNER:

Are you going to…

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

…that is a shambles.

LEON BYNER:

Are you going to put that back, are you going to put that $1.2 billion back?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Where do you suggest we find that money back when we have a massive billion dollar deficit that the federal Labor Party has left us?

LEON BYNER:

All I am doing is making an obvious point is that you criticised the former government for taking funding out, you might presume the listener will think well ok that means you are going to put it back, and then you say oh no no no we don’t have the money?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

No, no. I have put it back to Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory in 2014. Because they were the ones that hadn’t ripped off them by Bill Shorten and then from 2015 onwards there will be a new school funding model which will be fair and equitable to everyone which I will reveal over the coming months after consulting with all the states and territories and the stakeholders because that is responsible, common-sense thing to do. But I am sure that Jay Weatherill will spend as much time as he can talking about funding because talking about outcomes for students leaves him grossly exposed in South Australia with his failure as an Education Minister and a Premier, firstly to protect or children and secondly to get the best out of them in terms of their education outcomes.

LEON BYNER:

What do you say Jay?

JAY WEATHERILL:

Well Leon this is the quote from the Liberal Party, “you can vote Labor or Liberal and get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”. You’ve heard today that they are not prepared to recommit themselves to that, that is a broken promise. And remember, just remember the hounding of Julia Gillard over broken promises. Well we are going to hold the Liberal Party to the same standards that they held federal Labor to. I am going to fight to make sure that every school and every student in this state gets the fair share of funding that they were promised at the federal election.

 

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