It is back-to-school time for Labor. They cannot do the maths. Their comprehension ability is clearly limited, and that has been reinforced by the member for Sydney in her dissertation on the Quality Schools reforms that have been widely supported throughout the sector; their support is widespread. I will come back to all the support and go through it chapter and verse. Our policies, I can assure you, are far from friendless. So Labor need to go back to school. Concentrate on your maths. Concentrate on your comprehension. Concentrate on listening. Concentrate on learning. That would actually be a positive.
On top of the issues that they need to concentrate on, I would have to say that what is particularly interesting about the position that Labor have taken on these reforms is that they have set themselves up as the national advocates against consistent funding for schools, against fair funding for schools and against needs-based funding for schools. By their very own actions they have carved out their own special niche in Australian politics, and that is as the anti-education party. We on this side of the House have spent considerable time looking at and consulting on the much-needed reforms in the school sector.
We have put considerable time into making sure that we are in a position to announce some much-needed and widely respected reforms to the education sector. There are two parts to what I would like to speak about today: firstly, the money, which I will cover next; and, secondly, time permitting, the issues of quality and quality education. I have said many times before to the mums and dads of Australia that their children are going to get a much greater quality education under a coalition government than they will ever get under a Labor government.
Let me just turn to the money. This government, the coalition government, is going to commit an additional $18.6 billion for Australia’s schools over the next decade, starting from 2018. It is going to be distributed according to a model that is fair, that is needs based and that has transparent funding. Under what is clearly a landmark in school reforms, the Quality Schools reforms, Commonwealth funding for Australian schools is going to grow from a record $17.5 billion in 2017 to $30.6 billion in 2027. This includes more than $2.2 billion in new funding over the first four years to be included in this year’s budget, following on from an additional $1.2 billion in last year’s budget. It is a record $242.3 billion that will be invested in total schools recurrent funding from 2018 through to 2027, including $81.1 billion over the period 2018 to 2021.
We are going to do a number of things with our reforms, but, critically, we are going to end Labor’s 27 special deals with states and territories, unions, and non-government school leaders. Labor traded away the principles of Gonski, and they did that for political expediency. It is very interesting that they do not seem to talk about Gonski very much anymore, but I will come back to that. The changes we are making—our Quality School reforms—are going to ensure that all schools and states transition to an equal Commonwealth share of the resource standard in a decade, unlike the 150 years of inequity that current arrangements would entail.
Let me go through a few more numbers. Let me make clear at the outset that the state governments are the major funders of state schools. The Commonwealth will meet a share of the Gonski recommended school-resourcing standard: 20 per cent for government schools, up from 17 per cent this year, and 80 per cent for non-government schools, up from 77 per cent this year. I need to address the confusion over the Catholic education sector funding, and our very strong support for parental choice.
We continue to support parental choice in education, and we do that by funding both government and non-government schools. Under our funding model, in 2018 a student in a government school will receive an average $2,863, growing to $4,453 in 2027; a student in an independent school will receive $7,571, growing to $10,853 in 2027; and a student in a Catholic school will receive $9,166, growing to $12,493 in 2027.
These funding figures clearly show our enduring support for the decisions that parents make when choosing the best learning environment for their children. How much does the Catholic school system receive? Over the next four years, from 2018 to 2021, annual average per-student funding to the Catholic school sector across Australia will grow by 3.7 per cent.
The growth will be 3.5 per cent for Victorian Catholic schools, 3.8 per cent for New South Wales Catholic schools, 3.7 per cent for Queensland Catholic schools, 3.8 per cent for South Australian Catholic schools, four per cent for Western Australian Catholic schools, 4.4 per cent for Tasmanian Catholic schools and 5.8 per cent for Northern Territory Catholic schools.
ACT Catholic and independent schools will have neutral growth and no cuts over this period. These increases are above both inflation and the projected wage-price increase and will begin to transition each state Catholic sector to an equal footing regarding needs based funding. I am conscious of the time, and I am well aware that a number of my colleagues will be following me in the debate on today’s MPI.
They will be very well versed in all the reasons why the Quality Schools reform is actually in the best interest of the students and also of the parents of those students.
So what I would like to do is address one of the issues that were raised by the member for Sydney when she said that our policy was friendless. It is not friendless; it actually has a lot of friends. Quite frankly, I might run out of time before I get through even the few that I have here, so let me start—I cannot wait.
Government members interjecting— Mrs ANDREWS: You are right; I am beside myself with excitement over this.
David Gonski AC, in a media conference on 2 May 2017—I have to hurry up to make sure I get through a bit of this, let me tell you—said: I’m very pleased to hear that the Turnbull Government has accepted the fundamental recommendations of our 2011 report, and particularly regarding a needs-based situation … I am very pleased that there is substantial additional money, even over indexation and in the foreseeable future.
Bill Scales, one of the original Gonski panellists, said on AM in an interview on 3 May: This is about how to provide the highest quality of education for every student and we shouldn’t make that a political issue.
We also have Principal Michael Honey, from Nazareth Catholic College Primary Campus, in an interview on ABC Radio Adelaide, on 3 May: I think this is a fabulous deal for South Australia … Every school in South Australia will benefit from this, every single one … And there are more.
Shelley Hill from the Australian Parents Council, in a media release on 3 May, said: The Australian Parents Council welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister and Education Minister … “It is very positive to hear the commitment to a single, needs-based, sector blind funding model for Australian schools …”
And there is more. But I will have to leave that to my colleagues. But let me say that I am so proud of what this government has proposed to reform the schools sector in this country.