Labor has gutted its pre-election schools platform, walking back its stated commitment to fully fund public schools and ensure equity for the most disadvantaged students, the Greens say.
The ALP’s draft 2023 national platform has abandoned a pledge to ensure that “all schools are fairly resourced”, replacing it with a more watered down statement which only ensures that schools are “on a path” to full funding. They’ve also included language which would make funding increases to the most disadvantaged schools, the vast majority of which are receiving less than the minimum funding level determined by Gonski, contingent on “practical reforms”.
Labor has also dumped all language requiring the party to deliver equity in education. The 2021 platform said it was “unacceptable” for students to miss out because of class, geography and disability, while it also committed to closing the education gap for First Nations students and students living in regional and remote areas. There are no equity goals in the new schools platform.
The proposed platform amendments are the latest indicator that Labor has no plan to try to halt the decline of the public system and should leave teachers, parents, carers and students deeply concerned about how committed Labor is to finally delivering full funding to public schools in the next National School Reform Agreement.
Comments attributable to Greens spokesperson on schools, Senator Penny Allman-Payne:
“This should be a massive wake-up call to anyone still holding on to the hope that Labor is going to finally deliver on the promise of Gonski and properly fund our public schools.
“We need bold, brave action to save our public schools and reverse the downward trajectory of student performance, but this watered down platform clearly telegraphs Labor’s intention to do no such thing.
“If you stick a microphone in front of the Education Minister he’s bound to tell you that he doesn’t want to live in a country where kids’ chances in life depend on how rich their parents are or the colour of their skin.
“Yet here we have, in black and white, hard proof that Labor has no commitment whatsoever to arresting the yawning, and growing, gap between the education haves and have nots. How does the Minister square the circle between his own flowery rhetoric and the party’s stated position?
“Fully funding our public schools would only cost an extra $6.5 billion a year. That’s in the ballpark of this year’s budget surplus, or roughly one-sixth of a nuclear submarine we don’t need.
“Negotiations on the next National School Reform Agreement are already underway. This is the last chance we have to bring the public school system back from the brink. Labor has the chance to come riding over the hill to save the day, but at the moment it looks like they’re vacating the field of battle.
“The Greens will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with unions, teachers, parents, carers and students in rejecting Labor’s spinelessness and keeping the pressure on the government to finally give our public school kids a chance.