Budget perpetuates attack on the neediest

In its second budget, the Abbott Government has again turned its back on Australian students, especially those in need of greater assistance.

NSW Teachers Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, said:

“The Abbott Government’s failure to fund the fifth and sixth years of the NSW Gonski schools funding agreement has broken its pre-election promise and denied students the additional support they need to achieve their educational potential. This appalling abrogation of Federal Government responsibility warrants the strongest possible response from the NSW Government.

“The NSW Coalition Government signed the Gonski agreement in good faith, pledging to increase state funding over six years in partnership with the Commonwealth. Premier Baird must continue to step up and defend the state’s public schools and students. He must do all he can to convince the Prime Minister to honour the NSW agreement.

“If Gonski is not fully funded, students and schools with the most need for assistance will be hardest hit.

“Prime Minister Abbott’s pre-election promise of increased funding for students with disability has been shattered, leaving more than 100,000 students across Australia without funding support.

“The 2014 Budget foreshadowed cuts of $30 billion to education over the next decade; the Budget brought down in May makes those cuts a reality. Instead of delivering greater fairness and equity through a needs-based funding model, this budget perpetuates the Abbott Government’s attack on the neediest and most vulnerable students.

“There are no improvements in funding for vocational education and training, or TAFE; rather there is an expected cut of more than 22 per cent in this area over the next three years.

“After handing down this Budget, the Abbott Government can be sure of this — teachers, parents, principals, community members, fair-minded citizens across the country — will continue to campaign for greater investment in our public schools and TAFE colleges, so all students receive the support they need to achieve their potential in education and employment.

“This is how a strong, socially cohesive, economically prosperous nation is built.”

Gonski pressure placed on Federal ALP too

The Australian Education Union and several state Labor Governments are pressuring Federal Labor to commit to funding the fifth and sixth years of the Gonski agreement.

Six-year Gonski agreements with the states were signed with the Gillard Labor Government.

While shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told the National Press Club on May 20, “You can expect our commitment to the Gonski ethos to run very heavily through our policy development and our policy announcements. We’ll have plenty more to say about education funding. Again, I come back to the fact that we are going to talk to the states and territories about their needs in a collaborative fashion and talk to them about exactly what can be delivered when, but you should not underestimate our commitment to better and fairer education funding.”

Given that Abbott and Pyne are refusing to fund the full model, teachers, principals and parents are hoping that the ALP will announce that it intends to fund the final two years.

The ALP will hold its national conference July 24 to 26.