Page 846 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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you look at the funding lines for education pre-Gonski and post-Gonski, and signing off on it, it meant a $40 million cut to ACT education.

I am not commenting on, and I will not get into a broader debate about, whether Gonski is the right solution for Australia, if it has worked, if improvements can be made and so on. The reality is—and you can go back and look at those budget papers—that it meant that when the ACT signed up for Gonski, we got a $40 million cut in education funding in our schools. It was not actually a good deal for the ACT; it was a dud deal for ACT schools and ACT students. The public schools paid a price for that.

Mr Assistant Speaker, if you go to table 4A.14 in ROGS, it makes that clear. It shows that, in the 10-year period—and it reflects that post-Gonski period—in real terms, funding has gone down per FTE, per student to student, in the ACT public school system. Real funding over that period has gone down by 3.3 per cent.

There is a price to be paid for that because that is resources, that is teachers and that is the support staff that we would expect in our schools to support our students. In every other jurisdiction—WA might be slightly lower, and the Northern Territory—funding has gone up. In New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria the real funding per student has gone up in that period. In the ACT it has gone down.

Correlating with that is the union and frontline staff now saying that they do not have enough resources. So it has not happened by accident. These are intentional, deliberate funding decisions of the ACT government that have resulted in a 3.3 per cent cut to funding.

I know that Mr Braddock wants to draw the feds into it and have a debate around that, and I am happy to do so, because that same table shows that in that same period funding for ACT students, FTE in public schools, from the feds went up by 42 per cent. At the end of the day, the feds will give us what they give us—and thank you to the coalition government for increasing funding in that period by 42 per cent. At the end of the day, this debate is about what we do in this chamber. In this chamber, decisions have been made that have cut that funding by 3.3 per cent.

With regard to Ms Berry’s amendment, this is often what the government do. There is a motion being debated, and they will move an amendment that sometimes is completely separate from the motion. They will move an amendment that, to be honest, is not totally unreasonable. I am one that wants to look for compromise, for a best outcome. Although the “notes” are arguable—it is reasonable that the “notes” are arguable—I am concerned about outcomes. The outcomes in Ms Berry’s amendment are to “respond appropriately to the WorkSafe notices”. I support that. I want them to respond. The amendment then says to “consider the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students as the foremost priority when making decisions about the operation of schools”. Yes, I do support that. That is something that the Canberra Liberals do support. The amendment then says:

(c) continue to take steps to address the work safety risks identified by staff in ACT public schools, including properly resourcing schools according to their needs, ensuring that class size limits are respected …

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