What I would like to do at the start is put some context around this debate and to make a few things abundantly clear. Labor made unfunded, unbudgeted promises in the lead-up to the 2013 election.
Those promises remain unfunded under Labor’s current policies. The Labor government lost the 2013 election, which was a somewhat predictable outcome given what was happening in the lead-up to the 2013 election.
As everyone would recall, Labor actually installed Mr Rudd as the Prime Minister in an effort to save the furniture—that is, to lessen the losses at the 2013 election. In the lead-up to that election when the Labor Party were facing the very real prospect of not being re-elected, they made a series of promises in education that were unfunded.
They did that knowing that there was a limited prospect that they would ever have to deliver on those funding promises. Funding is important. I do not walk away from that at all. But it is important to put some sort of context around what is happening with funding.
The Commonwealth overall provides one-third of all school funding. The Commonwealth recurrent funding for schools will continue to grow, year on year, from an estimated $16.1 billion in 2016 to more than $20.2 billion in 2020.
Over the last decade, Australian government per-student funding for government schools has been growing faster than state and territory government funding. State governments are actually responsible for 82 per cent of school funding for public schools and the Commonwealth provides the remaining 18 per cent of funding through to public schools.
So Commonwealth funding to government schools has been growing faster than state funding to government schools. I would like to go through the stats for my home state of Queensland. Under the coalition government, from 2014 to 2017, total funding to government schools in Queensland has been $5.2 billion. That is an increase of 47.9 per cent over that period.
In fact, Queensland has had the biggest funding increase to government schools in Australia. Funding is important. I think we on this side of the House can demonstrate very clearly that, under the coalition government, funding has increased year on year. When I last spoke on an MPI on a very similar subject matter I gave a message to the parents here in Australia.
My message was very simple—that their kids would get a much better quality education under a coalition government than they would ever get under a Labor government. It was true when I made that statement several weeks ago; it is true now. It will be true next week, next month and next year. In 10 years time, it will be true.
I am very confident of what I am saying because we on this side of the House are very focused on achieving a quality outcome in education based on evidence, not knee-jerk responses, and taking on board many, many of the comments from stakeholders that we have heard from not just in the last six months but over a period of years.
We have released a report—the Quality schools, quality outcomes paper. It actually goes through very clearly the five key areas that we are focused on into the future. I will run through those very quickly and then I will come back and talk about them.
These are the five key areas that we as a government are focused on. The first area is boosting literacy, numeracy and STEM performance. The second area is teaching and school leadership.
Mr Conroy interjecting— Mr Littleproud interjecting— The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): We will just have one speaker at a time, thank you. This is very unedifying.
Mrs ANDREWS: I might just start that bit again. As I have said, we released some time ago our report Quality schools, quality outcomes. I am very happy to make available to those opposite a copy of that report so that they can understand what the future of education looks like and what the five key areas are that we as a coalition government are focused on delivering.
The first area is boosting literacy, numeracy and STEM performance. The second one is teaching and school leadership. The third one is preparing our students for a globalised world. The fourth is focusing on what matters most and those who need it most. And the fifth point is accountability through transparency.
I think it would be very hard for anyone who was at all interested in education to dispute that those are, in fact, the five key priority areas that we as a government and a nation should all be focusing on delivering.
We want to make sure that we are delivering to our students a quality education today and into the future. I have explained at length the errors in the assertions that the opposition are making in regards to funding in the future. I do want to take the opportunity today to point out that Labor did not actually just limit its damage in the education sector to schools. It did almost irreparable damage to vocational education in this nation.
It is an area in which I have worked for a number of years in various capacities. It is soul destroying for me and for many of those around me—my colleagues on this side of the House—to reflect on the damage that was done to vocational education in the period 2011-12 when there were nine successive cuts to employer incentives totalling $1.2 billion. One point two billion dollars was ripped out of vocational education in 2011-12 when Labor was in government
. Mr Hill: You have been in government for four years.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): The member for Bruce!
Mrs ANDREWS: And the Labor Party brought vocational education in this country to its knees, and it is still trying hard to get back up from where the Labor government put it. There was $1.2 billion in cuts—almost irreparable damage to the vocational education sector—and those opposite sit there smugly, thinking that they have the authority to speak about a sector that they brought to its knees.
So there was $1.2 billion in cuts to vocational education. On this side of the House, we understand that vocational education is very important to this country. We train about 4½ million people in vocational education in Australia. We have a significant issue in this country, courtesy of the cuts that Labor made to employer incentives.
That is particularly in relation to apprenticeships, where we are still fighting against the downturn that was inflicted on that sector by those cuts to employer incentives—$1.2 billion in cuts. On this side of the House, we do not see education as isolated areas, whether that is child care, schools, vocational education or higher education.
We look at education in its totality, all the way through from early childhood education to schools, vocational education and into higher education. The commitment from this side of the House is to make sure that we work with all of the key stakeholders and that we deliver a quality outcome.
We understand that there is not a direct link between the amount of funding and the results that our students are getting at school.
We are working hard to target the funding to make sure that our kids get the best education and perform at the highest possible level.