The Morrison government’s federal budget has failed the fairness test by neglecting to put public education first.
“We have travelled across the country visiting schools and communities and we know how important fair school funding is to parents and children,” Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal President Correna Haythorpe said.
“This will be a critical federal election issue, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has once again demonstrated his lack of leadership on the issue of public school funding.”
With this federal budget the Morrison Government’s insults to public education include:
- no restoration of the $14 billion in public school funding cuts
- no capital works funding for public schools. Only a one-off $200,000 per electorate for libraries, classrooms and play equipment, while private schools continue to enjoy a $1.9 billion capital works fund
- no guarantee of ongoing permanent funding for 15 hours of preschool for four-year-old children and no funding for three-year-olds
- no reversal of the $3 billion they have cut from VET since elected. $525 million over five years to “upgrade the VET sector” with not a single mention of TAFE in the budget papers
- a clear indication of their privatisation agenda with industry to design the qualifications and reshape VET
Ms Haythorpe said the budget was a continuation of the federal Coalition’s six years of attacks on public education.
“Scott Morrison has proven once and for all that his idea of a fair go means a fair go for some, not a fair go for all. He has cut billions of dollars from public schools and given billions extra to private schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“This budget has left 99 per cent of public schools under the Schooling Resource Standard and without the additional funding they need for smaller class sizes, more one-on-one teaching and more support for students with disability.”
Ms Haythorpe said that the Morrison government’s failure to provide a capital works fund for public schools or to reverse its cuts to funding for students with disability was deeply unfair by any measure.
“Public schools are experiencing significant enrolment growth and it is the public sector which has the greatest need for classrooms, libraries, science labs or sporting facilities,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“These cuts hit hardest the students who need our help the most.”
Ms Haythorpe said the Morrison government’s announcement to roll over preschool funding for four-year-old children for only two years does not provide funding certainty for the preschool sector.
“Scott Morrison’s failure to guarantee ongoing funding for two years of preschool for every three and four-year-old child makes absolutely no sense. Two years of early child education is fast becoming the global standard,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“Australia is just one of eleven OECD nations which do not provide two years of early childhood education.”
“This budget announcement can only be viewed as a cynical vote-buying exercise, not a genuine commitment to preschool education for our children,” Ms Haythorpe said.
Ms Haythorpe said the Morrison government’s announcement of additional funding for apprenticeships would do nothing to revitalise the TAFE sector.
“Morrison Government budget cuts have left the TAFE sector in crisis, and its new apprenticeship scheme does nothing to address the real needs of the public TAFE system,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“Mr Morrison has ignored the critical need for his government to reverse the deep cuts to TAFE which are denying many thousands of Australians the opportunity to build the skills they need to work for the careers they want.”
“Australia needs a strong TAFE for public provision for vocational education,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“This can only happen if the cuts to TAFE are reversed, and a minimum guarantee of 70 percent of all government funding for vocational education is made for TAFE.”
“If this budget is Scott Morrison’s idea of a fair go, then it’s time for Mr Morrison to go,” Ms Haythorpe said.