THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
TUESDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2018
SUBJECTS: Liberals’ cuts to schools, Adani.
PLIBERSEK: Figures that Labor will release today show that the vast bulk of the Government’s cuts to our schools over the next two years hit the public education system. So over the next two years, 86 percent of funding cuts will hit public schools, another 12 percent will hit Catholic schools, and two percent will be to independent schools. These figures are new figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office and the National Catholic Education Commission and what they show is that funding cuts over the next two years hit our poorest kids in our poorest schools the hardest.
JOURNALIST: How will Labor rectify those cuts given this is now the out years of the budget that Wayne Swan delivered.
PLIBERSEK: This is the easiest thing in the world to fix because Labor has said we will restore every dollar of the $17 billion cut from our schools over the next decade, and one of the most important elements of this pledge is that we will give the biggest increases in the shortest time to the neediest schools. This lot of funding cuts that hits public schools disproportionately hard, hits Catholic schools six times harder than it hits independent schools shows just how unfair, just how cruel these cuts are.
JOURNALIST: There seems to be some movement, can you clarify what is Labor’s position on the Adani coal mine?
PLIBERSEK: We are obviously looking at some of the issues that continue to emerge around this project. The longer time goes on, the more we see about the economic and environmental questions around this proposal. There are issues around overinflated jobs numbers for example, the impact on the reef, which is not just an environmental treasure but also a huge supporter of jobs. We continue to see - recent reports for example that it is possible that environmental results have been falsified in an environmental spill that the company is involved in. I mean, these sorts of new bits of information are very troubling. I’ve been troubled from the beginning that the jobs claims of the company and of the Government are inflated. Of course we need jobs for Northern Queensland and Central Queensland; we see that town like Townsville, Rockhampton and so on have higher unemployment figures than the average - and their young people, in particular, want to know that they’ve got a future - that they can get an apprenticeship, stay in their town, raise a family there. We do need to have answers around these issues, but we see a company that’s made all sorts of inflated claims and a Government that’s been very happy to back them in, including by providing $1 billion to an Indian mining magnate. If we spend that $1 billion on projects that support job creation in Northern Queensland and Central Queensland, I reckon we’ll do much better.
JOURNALIST: This stalemate isn’t helping those jobs for young people you mentioned though. When will Labor have a clear idea of what their stance will be?
PLIBERSEK: I don’t think it’s fair to characterise it as a stalemate. We’re making a thoughtful and considered decision about a very important issue. As new information comes to light, it’s important that we consider it.
JOURNALIST: When will that thoughtful decision be made then?
PLIBERSEK: We’ll let you know.
JOURNALIST: But given there is jobs on the line here potentially, and this project can get started…
PLIBERSEK: Jobs are always the most important consideration for any Labor government but I can tell you that $1 billion in the pocket of an Indian mining magnate is not the best way to spend that to support job creation.