Press Conference—Adelaide

Transcript
  • Minister for Education
  • Leader of the House

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
Press Conference — Adelaide
28 November 2013

SUBJECT: Education Reform

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Obviously we have covered the ground for the need of a new funding model, following the revelations about the Shorten shambles that I've inherited as the Minister for Education. Today I want to outline the principles that will underpin a new school funding model which I will bring forward next year, after consulting the states and territories and all the stakeholders to make sure that we are all working together to bring about the best results for our students. A national model needs to replace the model I've inherited which is different for every State and Territory. So the first principle is that the model needs to be national. It needs to be fair between all the states and territories because at the moment every State and Territory has a different deal.

The Shorten Shambles involves three jurisdictions with no agreement and every other jurisdiction has a different deal with the Federal Government, so there is no national deal and it is completely unfair the way that it would operate if Labor had been re-elected. So the second principle is that it needs to be fair between all the States and Territories, and thirdly it needs to be needs-based. Obviously Commonwealth taxpayers' funds needs to get to the students that need it the most, whether they are in non-government schools or government schools. The Commonwealth is the principal funder of non-government schools and we make a contribution to government schools, but at the end of the day they are State and Territory schools and they are owned and operated by State and Territory governments.

Finally, the Coalition will continue to press ahead with what it thinks are the most important issues in education for our schoolchildren. We want a focus on teacher quality which we can affect through universities. We want more parental engagement because those systems around the world that are successful, have a very high degree of parental engagement. We want more autonomy for our principals and for their leadership teams, more local decision-making, because all the evidence, domestically and internationally shows that the more local decision-making, the more autonomy in schools the better the outcome is for students.

And finally we want a robust curriculum because it's what we teach our children that's most important, how we teach them and who teaches them. So we want to focus on teacher quality and on robust curriculum, on more local decision-making and on parental engagement. All of those things mean that students need to be first in our priorities, rather than rows between State and Territory governments internally or with the Commonwealth Government. Funding is important, but funding isn't the whole box and dice when it comes to education.

QUESTION:

Do you think an extra $230 million will come from cuts or changing priorities in the department or from consolidated revenue fund?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Straight back to funding. Look, funding is important. I've dealt with the $230 million. The good news is that the Coalition is putting exactly the same amount of money that Labor would have put in to funding if they had been re-elected, but we're adding $230 million.

QUESTION:

And where did that come from?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Where that comes from will be revealed in the Mid-year Economic Fiscal Outlook, as it should be, but the reality is $230 million more for Queensland, Northern Territory and WA who were ripped off by Bill Shorten to the tune of $1.2 billion over 4 years, and I note that for the third day in a row, Bill Shorten has been asked every day whether he will deny that he ripped out $1.2 billion from WA, Queensland and the NT, and he can't deny that because it's true. Bill Shorten left a shambles and he ripped $1.2 billion away from students.

QUESTION:

Do you think that taxpayers have a right to know whether this additional funding is actually coming from...?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Yes, and they will know that through the Mid-year Economic Fiscal Outlook.

QUESTION:

So will this model have any hallmarks of the SES model?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

All the remarks I've ever made about the Howard Government's SES funding model, have been to defend that model as a needs-based model, but that will not be the basis of a new funding model because we've moved beyond that. I've never said that we will now re-introduce the previous government's model, I have never said that, but I have defended it, because it was needs based for non-government schooling. It didn't apply in the same way to government schools. Since the Gonski Report, we've moved on from that debate and we will develop a new model that is national, that is fair to everyone and that is needs-based, so we've moved beyond the previous government's model and the current Shorten Shambles is not one we can implement, so I will come up with a new national, fair and needs-based model.

QUESTION:

Do you expect to have the new arrangements finalised in the first half of the year given the time it takes to ...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Yes, I would expect so and we have so. And we have so much information available to us, whether it's from the Gonski Report, the Grattan Institute, many other universities, experts in the education field, my own department is highly skilled in the area of modelling for schools, that I think the public want us to get on with the job. They don't want us to have another review of school funding. They elected us to make decisions and that's what we have to get on and do.

QUESTION:

So what sort of impact will it have on jobs and you know SSO positions and that sort of thing, will it have any impact on that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well, those sorts of decisions are made by State and Territory governments, and they're made by non-government school bodies, whether it is the Catholic systems or the independent schools. The Federal Government doesn't own or operate any schools. We are major funders and will continue to be major funders of a national fair and needs-based system, but we also want to do the things we are responsible for well and that means teacher training at university level because obviously we run, we are the major funder of universities and the regulator of universities.

QUESTION:

Has any of $230 million come from reward payments from national partnerships due to be paid to states?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

The answer is no, but I'm not going to go through the $230 million because that might be the next distraction. The truth is that will all be revealed in MYEFO. It's all fully funded, but it is no diminution in the funding envelope that we inherited from Labor. In fact, we are adding to that funding envelope by that $230 million. That is all new money to education.

QUESTION:

Surely the education sector wants to know whether there has been any cuts made to programs.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well, if there were any cuts, they would know about it, and there aren’t any so therefore there is none to tell them about.

QUESTION:

So there aren’t any, the money isn’t going to come from the Department, is that what you are saying, it is going to come from consolidated revenue fund?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

I think I've answered the question.

QUESTION:

Bill Shorten has again said this morning that the Coalition has lied about this whole funding arrangement. What's your response to that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

Well I would say that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Bill Shorten said he was behind Kevin Rudd when he was the PM until he stabbed him in the back and replaced him with Julia Gillard. Then he said he was 100% behind Julia Gillard until he stabbed her in the back and then replaced her with Kevin Rudd. So Bill Shorten has a very limited level of credibility when it comes to accusing other people of not telling the truth.

QUESTION:

What is your message going to be to education ministers tomorrow? What sort of reception will you get tomorrow?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

I think I will get a very warm reception from my education ministerial colleagues because we are all friends and we are trying to do the best thing possible for students in schools. My message is to them let's work together to have a focus on teacher quality, on parental engagement, on more local decision-making, on a robust curriculum and on a funding model that is fair, national and needs-based.

QUESTION:

Are you bracing for any sort of hostile response, potentially from the SA Government who has been quite vocal about wanting to keep the agreement?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

The South Australian Government is a special case because they will do everything they can to distract people from the fact that when Jay Weatherill was Education Minister and now Premier, the South Australian Department of Education has undergone probably its most catastrophic period in its history in terms of its reputation. It’s a great shock and a shame in South Australia that our Education Department is run by a former Police Commissioner, rather than an education specialist. I think it speaks volumes for the fact that when Jay Weatherill was Minister for Education and as Premier, his government has failed to protect children which should be their first priority. So of course they will try and distract people, but I suggest that Jay Weatherill takes the log out of his own eye before he starts to pick out the speck in his brother's.

QUESTION:

What about your Liberal colleagues in NSW, are you expecting a good reception from Barry O'Farrell?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE:

I am, and Barry O'Farrell and I are very good friends. I'm having dinner with all my education ministerial colleagues tonight and we will continue to work for what's best for students. Thank you.

 

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