THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s Fair Go For Schools funding website launch; Academic freedom in universities; Removing discrimination in schools
MICHAEL ROWLAND, PRESENTER: Let's take you to federal politics where both Labor and the Coalition are this morning announcing further details of their education policies as part of their pre-election sales pitches. We'll hear from the Education Minister Dan Tehan next hour, but first we are joined by Labor's Education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek. Ms Plibersek, good morning to you.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.
ROWLAND: You're going to unveil a policy that will allow every state school in Australia to know exactly how much money they'll get if a Labor Government is elected. How will this work in practice?
PLIBERSEK: Well, we've got a website, www.fairgoforschools.com.au and any parent anywhere in Australia will be able to look up their school and see how much better off their school will be in the first three years of a Labor Government. Parents know that we've committed an extra $14 billion to school funding over the next decade. But it's pretty hard to understand what that really means for your own school, $14 billion is such a large number. So our proposal is that you will be able to look up your own school and see what it will mean in practice for your school. You know, parents spend a lot of time thinking about their children's schooling, there's a lot of sleepless nights wondering whether their child is, whether they've got a learning difficulty that's been picked up, whether they're gifted and talented and bored at school, whether they've got the subject selection that will prepare them for the future. We spend a lot of time thinking about our children's education and being able to see, school-by-school, how much extra funding will be available under a Labor Government, does, I think, reassure parents to know that there will be extra resources for more one on one attention for their child, for more help if their kids are struggling, more extension activities if their kids are gifted and talented, more subject choice, more continuing professional development for teachers. Just more support in the classroom.
ROWLAND: What will determine what schools...
PLIBERSEK: You know schools...
ROWLAND: Excuse the interruption. What will determine what schools get a set amount and others, potentially, a lower amount? And won't that cause tensions between state schools if one is getting more than the other?
PLIBERSEK: No, it won't, of course not. What it depends on is the number of children at the school and the relative need of the school. So a large school obviously gets more funding. But a poorer school in a poorer area also gets more funding. So parents will be able to see how much extra their school will get, and they'll be able to compare how much extra their school will get compared to what they made at their last Bunnings sausage sizzle or their last fun run or trivia night. They'll see the difference that voting for a Labor Government would mean, school-by-school and child-by-child, right across Australia.
ROWLAND: Before we leave this issue - when will the information become available? Before the election or after?
PLIBERSEK: Today. Right now. Today. You'll be able to look at the fair go for schools website today and check out the extra funding for the first three years if Labor is elected for your school and compare it to your recent fundraising efforts and I think most parents will be very pleased what they see. Most schools will be better off by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first three years of a Labor Government alone.
ROWLAND: OK. We're speaking to Dan Tehan, your opposite, the Education Minister, later in the program. He is today unveiling what he is calling a "national interest test" on the $3 billion worth of research grants handed out to academics around Australia. He says that will improve public confidence in the process. Is this a good move?
PLIBERSEK: Well, you know, five minutes ago, the Government were saying that there's not enough academic freedom in our universities, there was too much group-think. And now Dan Tehan wants to be the Minister who changes our arms-length grants approval process to one where the politicians decide whether research is good value or good for the country. I don't know. I haven't seen the details. Like most things, we see thought bubbles from the Government. I'd be very surprised if this meets the test of academic freedom. And this Government has been talking a lot, for example, about the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation and how important it is. One of the most fundamental principles of our universities, the principle of academic freedom, where researchers are free to explore and discover and invent and interrogate without government interference.
ROWLAND: And just before you go, some of the top Anglican principals, particularly in schools in Sydney, your home city, have written to the Government urging them not to remove the ability of faith-based schools to discriminate against gay teachers, arguing to do so would be an attack on those schools' ethos and values. What is your response to that?
PLIBERSEK: Well we are very disappointed that the Government was prepared to legislate to protect children before the Wentworth by-election, but that that hasn't proceeded in the way that it ought to. There is agreement that we should remove discrimination against children. It's hard to see how it can be OK to protect children, but not protect adults from discrimination in schools. Now we understand that religious schools have the right to teach within the tenets of their faith. But saying that whole classes of people, whole groups of people, because of who they are or who they love, can automatically be discriminated against? I don't think that that really fits within mainstream Australian values today. We need to find a way forward that, of course, allows religious or faith-based schools to teach within the tenets of their faith but not to discriminate against whole classes of people based on who they are or who they love.
ROWLAND: Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek in Adelaide, thank you for joining us on News Breakfast.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.