Labor’s Christmas gift for underfunded public schools: a kick in the teeth


The Greens will explore options to remove the legislated 20% cap on the Commonwealth’s contribution to public school funding, after Labor announced on Friday that it would postpone the next National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) by a year.

The government’s decision to kick action on the public school funding crisis down the road comes despite recent data showing that the gulf between the richest and poorest students in Australia is widening, while public school parents are increasingly reaching into their own pockets to pay for building maintenance and basic education resources.

Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson on schools, Senator Penny Allman-Payne:

“This is outrageous. Making public school kids wait another year for a fair go while continuing to pour public money into elite private schools that don’t even need it is a complete abandonment of our most disadvantaged students and makes a mockery of the Education Minister’s pretty words about equity.

“The new NSRA was an opportunity for the Commonwealth, states and territories to end this funding crisis and restore equity to the school system. Their willingness to prolong and further entrench disadvantage is evidence of a deep sickness at the heart of our politics.

“Ten years on from Gonski, public schools in Australia remain underfunded, while the private sector is overfunded. Under the current NSRA public schools will never receive 100% of their Schooling Resource Standard funding. Not in five years; not in 100 years.

“This decision will also heap further strain on under-resourced teachers and schools and will worsen crippling teacher shortages.

“Instead of taking action, Minister Clare says they’ll be forming a panel of ’eminent Australians’ to inform the next Agreement. But we don't need another panel, or another review, or another study. We already know what needs to be done because Gonski did the work already!

“This government will have a fight on its hands in 2023. When parliament returns the Greens will look to amend the Australian Education Act to remove the cap on Commonwealth funding of public schools, which prevents the federal government contributing more than 20% of the Schooling Resource Standard.

“The Greens will use every lever at our disposal, inside and outside parliament, to push Labor to deliver the funding teachers have been pleading for for a decade.”



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.