The Greens will introduce a Bill to remove the arbitrary 20% cap on Commonwealth funding for public schools’ Schooling Resource Standard.
Speaking at the Australian Education Union’s National Conference, Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools Senator Penny Allman-Payne said today that she would introduce the legislation to end the buck passing between state and federal governments.
The announcement comes after the Government extended the current National School Reform Agreement locking in underfunding for public school students for another twelve months.
Comments attributable to Greens Schools spokesperson Senator Penny Allman-Payne:
“Australia now has one of the most privatised school systems in the developed world.
“This is a critical juncture where the governments of Australia will, in effect, decide whether they are committed to public education or not. It is no exaggeration to say that public education faces an existential threat if we do not turn this around.
“Whether the federal government wants to admit it or not - and judging from Jason Clare’s recent comments, it's the latter - this will cost money. You cannot rebuild public education in this country without investing serious sums in public schools.
“The money is there waiting to be used. There’s a quarter of a trillion dollars being wasted on the Stage 3 Tax Cuts for the rich that could be spent on public schools.
“Inequity in our education system will not be fixed by tinkering at the edges of the next National School Reform Agreement. We need to see a wholesale shift away from funding private schools, and reinvestment in our public education system.”
The Australian Education Act 2013 was amended under the Coalition Government to state that the Commonwealth would contribute 20% towards meeting public schools' Schooling Resource Standard, with states and territories making up the rest. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth meets 80% of private school SRS funding, and states 20%.
The NSRA sets out the school funding arrangements between the Commonwealth and the states and territories. The current NSRA, which was due to expire at the end of 2023, locks in underfunding for government schools. Under the current agreement public schools will have to wait until at least 2027 just to receive 95% of their Schooling Resource Standard (although the capital depreciation loophole will actually see that number closer to 91%), which is the bare minimum level of funding students require to achieve minimum achievement benchmarks.