THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
FRIDAY, 7 APRIL 2017
SUBJECTS: Schools’ funding; Syria
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well of course today there's a lot of global news that people will be watching very closely, but at the same time at home, a very important meeting happened today in Hobart. Education Ministers from around the country met with the Federal Education Minister to try and nail down just what's happening with school funding for next year. Sadly, this meeting has broken up with no advice from the Federal Education Minister about what states and territories should expect in terms of school funding next year. What we know for certain, from reading the Budget papers, is that schools around Australia will see a $30 billion cut over the next decade. But states and territories still don't know where those cuts will fall, how much will be cut from each state and territory, how much will go from the catholic system and how much will be lost from independent schools. It's impossible for schools to plan for next year when they don't know how much funding they're going to get. What's at risk, of course, is the extra one-on-one attention that children have been getting through the early years of needs-based funding. We know kids have been helped with their literacy, with their numeracy, extra lessons in science and coding, extra help with things like occupational therapy or speech therapy. Without extra funding our schools will go backwards, and as Rob Stokes, the New South Wales Education Minister, said this morning, the people who'll be hit hardest are the most disadvantaged. The most disadvantaged children stand to lose the most under the Federal Liberals' cuts to education.
JOURNALIST: Where does this leave schools then, where do they go from here?
PLIBERSEK: Well schools are beside themselves. Every system, the public schools, independent schools and catholic schools are all saying we need to plan for next year. We need to tell our specialist literacy teacher whether she's got a job next year, we need to tell the coding teacher whether she's got a job, we need to tell the maths teacher whether he's got a job. They don't know to tell their staff whether they've got extra work for them next year, in helping kids catch up, extra work in helping the gifted and talented students explore their gifts. They don't know in terms of which programs they'll be able to offer next year, which staff they'll have engaged. This is a serious problem and the people who'll suffer most are those children who've been getting the extra attention this year. Schools don't know whether they can continue their specialist programs.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about the strikes in Syria? [inaudible]
PLIBERSERK: Well our spokesperson on foreign affairs, Penny Wong, will be standing up in a little while to speak about Labor's position, but I will just say this - the world has been horrified by the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The fact that Bashar Al-Assad is prepared to use banned chemical weapons against his own people, and we've all seen the pictures of dozens of women and children in particular, who've been affected by these shocking weapons. This is a serious issue that requires a serious response from the international community. But as I say, Penny Wong will be making more comments very shortly.
JOURNALIST: Do you know whether the Opposition has received a briefing yet from the Government?
PLIBERSEK: Well I do know, but I'm going to leave that for Penny to talk about later.
JOURNALIST: You can't say any more about what you think the strikes might achieve?
PLIBERSEK: Well Penny will be up very shortly to talk about that. Thanks everyone.