SPEECH - SHORTEN & PLIBERSEK - ADDRESS TO THE AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION FAIR FUNDING LAUNCH - TUESDAY, 2 APRIL 2019

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BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

ADDRESS TO THE AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION FAIR FUNDING LAUNCH


CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 2 APRIL 2019

CORRENA HAYTHORPE, FEDERAL PRESIDENT, AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION: (inaudible) from Scott Morrison, and today we have created a visual representation with thousands of public schools representing individual schools right across Australia in the lawns of Parliament House. There is no clearer message than this. Our schools matter, it is individual schools, their children, their teachers and families that are important and our schools here today represent the additional funding that will be delivered under Labor's commitment to restore the $14 billion of cuts, and in particular $3.3 billion in the first three years if in Government. I'd also like to acknowledge that we have Bill Shorten here today and Tanya Plibersek and many caucus members and I'm also joined by my colleagues around Australia. There is no more important fight than this. Parents across the country know that at this next election, if we want to achieve fair funding for public schools then it's time to change the government. Thank you. I'd like to welcome Tanya Plibersek.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks very much Correna, and I want to thank you, and the Australian Education Union, the other education bodies that are here with us today, for standing up for Australian children. As a parent the biggest worry you have is your kids' health, and your kids' education. And as a government, they're the two things that we really should have front and centre in all of our decision making. Are we giving every Australian child the best start in life? Are they getting every opportunity to learn, to develop their skills and knowledge, to prepare them for life after school, for employment, and the fast-changing world that we're seeing around us? Making sure that we invest in our schools from preschool education, three and four year old universal access to preschool, to TAFE and university, but most particularly, in those years, those thirteen years of school, is so absolutely critical to the success of young Australians, and to our success as a nation. We've matched the government on funding for Catholic and independent schools. But the huge difference in funding is in our public school system. Our public schools teach two out of three of all Australian children, and they are more likely to be teaching the children with additional learning needs - with disabilities, with English as a second language, in small remote rural schools, schools with high populations of indigenous students. The public system is the system that looks after, takes every Australian child, welcomes every Australian child. And that's why it’s our public system that we need to back and support, make sure that it is the best in the world. And that's Labor's commitment. $14 billion extra for our public schools over the next decade. And you can see represented behind me, a sea of schools, that shows school-by-school the difference that Labor's fair funding for public schools will make. 

I'm going to ask Bill Shorten to say a few words now. Bill has been a fantastic supporter of this campaign to make sure that the Morrison government restores the cuts to Australian public schools. And if not the Morrison government, then I hope a Shorten Labor government will have the chance of doing that.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody, and we gather here on the eve of the Budget but also today at 9 o'clock, by 9 o'clock, a lot of parents will have dropped their kids off at schools all around Australia. Australian parents want their kids to grow up resilient and I think Australian parents want their kids to get a quality education. There's a million Australians working two jobs as we speak now, in many cases so they can properly fund their kids’ education. 

My mum was a teacher. She raised in me the importance of education. Education changes lives and it changes nation's. Public school funding is a most important issue. It is true that when the current government came to power they promised to properly fund public schools. 

Now, they broke that promise and even though we've been successful in getting some of the Catholic schools properly funded, this government has made a fairly cynical decision that they don't need to put the money back in that they promised into public schools. I don't know if this is because collectively they don't value public school education, or if they collectively think that parents don't value the issues about properly funding their children's education. Well, I think six weeks away from the election the Government's called it really wrong on education and in particular on proper public funding of government schools. Labor has said, through our economic reforms, that we can put back in the $14 billion over the next 10 years. That's $3.3 billion dollars in the next couple of years.

What it means though, this extra funding, and I was able to put signs down for schools in my electorate - Maribyrnong Secondary College, it's a sports Secondary College. There's a lot of kids who will get the chance to fulfil their sporting capacities at a government school whose parents don't have the money for them to take up other opportunities. These kids are going to be great Australian athletes one day.There was the Ascot Vale special school that will get extra money - that will allow more support for kids with special learning needs.

Every week, families in this country have to make difficult choices. Everything has been going up except their wages. There are parents as we speak who when the bill comes in from the school for the extras - for the camp, for the music lessons - they make very hard choices. How on earth did we arrive at a state in 2019 where education is becoming an optional cost, where families are being asked to bear more of the burden of educating their kids because we're not properly funding government schools. The teachers in our government schools do remarkable work. Literally millions of teachers are working very hard to make sure their kids - hundreds of thousands of teachers and support staff - are doing their very best. 

But what message do we send our kids? You know, they go down to the shopping centres, they're all expensive and brand new - we send a message. But when we send them to our schools they're not getting the same resources that equates with the importance of which we tell them as adults that we attach to education. 

This government has had six years to get public school funding right. This government has had six years to properly fund our schools and our government schools - they haven't done it. This next six weeks doesn't wipe away the cuts of the last six years in public school education. The one good thing about the budget tonight, is it means that there is an election within the next five weeks, and the good thing about an election in five weeks is we're going to make education an election issue. 

If this country does nothing else but ensures that our kids get the best possible education from universal three and four year old kindergarten, through to properly funded public schools, through to properly funding our TAFE and university, we're gonna pass on a better deal to our kids than the one we inherited from our parents. 

I congratulate the AEU - education of our kids is a first order issue. The education cuts of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government are a first order issue. We will change and reverse the cuts because we want to see our kids get the best start in life. That's what all Australian parents want for their kids and we will back that up with a promise.