CROYDON HILLS PRIMARY SCHOOL, MELBOURNE
WEDNESDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to transform public schools with a record investment; The Ruddock Review; Population growth; Labor’s plan to support renewable energy and tackle climate change.
SHIREEN MORRIS, CANDIDATE FOR DEAKIN: Good morning everyone. My name is Shireen Morris, I am the candidate for the federal seat of Deakin. We are so happy to be here today at this beautiful school in Croydon, Croydon Hills Primary School and I want to welcome Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition and Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and also James Merlino the Deputy Premier so thank you so much for visiting us here. We're really excited, we've got an amazing announcement that will see a local school like Croydon Hills Primary get $620,000 of extra funding over the first three school years. So with that, I'll pass it over to Bill. Thank you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Shireen. That was Shireen Morris, Shireen is our candidate running in the seat of Deakin in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. Great to be here at Croydon Hills Primary School with Tanya Plibersek my spokesperson on education, and also James Merlino, Deputy Premier of Victoria and Education Minister. I'm also accompanied by Andrew Giles and Jo Ryan, both working on Labor's education policies.
Today I’m really pleased to announce that if Labor forms a government at the next election we will reverse the cuts to public education of the Liberal Party. We'll put back in $14.1 billion over the next ten years spread right around all of the fantastic, great government schools of Australia.
No policy is any more important than education of our kids. The reason why Labor wants to form a government is we want to hand on a better deal to the next generation. That's something every parent would understand. My wife Chloe and I are educating three of our kids, we want a great education for them and I want to see every Australian child in every Australian state get a quality education. That's why Tanya Plibersek has been leading our policy to make sure that we reinvest all of the money that the Liberals have cut out of public education.
Now, in recent times, Labor has stood alongside the parents of low-fee Catholic schools to make sure that their cuts to funding get reversed but now it's the time for public education to make sure they get their fair share too.
It is legitimate for parents who send their kids to government schools, who pay taxes to Canberra, to see some of those taxes reinvested in the education of their kids at public schools. Unfortunately, this government doesn't seem to understand much about education, they seem to only respond to political pain. I'd just say to the parents of kids who send their kids to government schools, Labor has got its numbers on the table and Tanya Plibersek is going to talk more about that in a moment.
At a fantastic school like this, Labor's sensible and modest policies will see an extra $620,000 invested right here in this school in the first three years of a Labor Government. That'll mean that kids will get a lot more choices in the subjects, that'll mean there will be more support in the classroom, the kids who are doing really well or other kids who perhaps need greater support through special needs, what it'll mean is that there will be more choices and the kids here will get the best start in life.
I'm saying to the parents who send their kids to government schools, and there's two and a half million kids across Australia, Labor will stand alongside you. We need to send a message to the government of Australia, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, don't short change kids in public education, don't treat public schools as second class schools.
Labor wants to see a great education for every child in every school. That's what we're announcing today. I'd like to hand over to Tanya Plibersek now.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks so much, Bill. This is a really exciting day for public education and because it is such an important day for public education, we're joined by a host of education specialists.
Of course we've got our leader Bill Shorten, we've got James Merlino the Deputy Premier of Victoria and the Education Minister down here, we've got Shireen Morris who is our candidate for the federal seat of Deakin. We are very excited about Shireen's candidacy and her campaign. But we've also got with us Andrew Giles and Joanne Ryan from the federal parliament, Ian Anderson the President of the Australian Government Primary Principals Association, Anne Marie Kliman the Vice President, Gail McHardy whose daughters actually went to this school who is the Executive Officer of Parents Victoria, Susan Hopgood and Meredith Peace from the Australian Education Union and we've got Carol Wyatt who is the Acting Principal of Croydon Hills Primary, the fantastic school we are here at right now.
Shireen has told you that a school like this would be better off by about $620,000 over the first three years of Labor's funding commitment to public schools. Can you imagine how many sausage sizzles, how many cake stalls, how many school fetes that is. This school has a school fete every year, it has a chocolate drive that's on at the moment because parents know that every extra dollar they raise for their school goes towards a better education for their children.
So imagine the difference that $620,000 will make to a school like this, and then imagine what $14 billion extra investment over the next decade will mean for public schools right around Australia.
Because every parents wants the best possible education for their child. We want every child in every school, in every system, in every state and territory to get a world-class education. More one-on-one attention, more help with the basics, more attention for kids who are falling behind. So we pick that up earlier, and then the help to catch up, more extension for the kid whose are gifted and talented, more subjects so we can offer better vocational education, languages, coding, arts education on top of the basics.
And very importantly, more support so that our excellent public school teachers can, throughout their working lives, continue to upgrade their professional skills so they’re always at the peak of their game, so they’re always right on top of the new innovations and discoveries in education.
We believe that every Australian child, no matter where they live, no matter who their parents are, how much their parents earn, should get a world-class education, and only Labor is committed to delivering that.
We've seen from the Morrison Government an admission recently that they've cut billions from Catholic and independent schools and we're pleased that they are restoring funding to Catholic and independent schools, but the biggest cuts have been to public schools.
85 per cent of the cuts in the first two years alone came from public schools, so it's public schools where we need to see the biggest investment in future years. $14 billion, the Morrison Government’s admitted their cuts to Catholic and independent schools. They should now admit that they've cut billions from public schools and they should restore those funding cuts so that every child, irrespective of system, irrespective of state or territory, irrespective of where they live or their parents' income, can get a world-class education. We are going to hear now from James Merlino who is the Deputy Premier and Education Minister here in Victoria.
JAMES MERLINO, DEPUTY PREMIER OF VICTORIA: Thanks very much, Tanya. This is a wonderful announcement. I want to give you some perspectives from what this means for Victorian schools. So can I thank Bill, Tanya, Shireen and everyone here today.
This announcement from the Federal Opposition is exactly what we have been calling for in Victoria. It addresses the fundamental problem with the funding proposal on the table today from the Federal Liberal Government. There is nothing fair, there is nothing logical about the funding formula, the funding proposal by the Morrison Government.
You've got a proposal right now where non-government schools get to 100 per cent of the student resource standard and beyond, yet government schools are stuck at 95 per cent.
To put this in perspective, for Victorian government schools in our first three years, this means $800 million. $800 million. That's more than 2,000 teachers in our Victorian schools in the first three years under this funding proposal by the Federal Opposition.
Imagine the transformation in all of our government schools. This is exactly what we have been calling for. $800 million in the first three years and sets us on a path working with a Federal Labor government to get to 100 per cent of the student resource standard over the coming years.
We have put this to the Federal Government. We are currently in negotiations. It has been carelessly and flatly rejected by Dan Tehan and Scott Morrison. This proposal today smashes through that artificial 20 per cent funding barrier from the Federal Government. There is nothing needs based at all about the model that is on the table today.
This will mean the world of difference. And investment makes a difference. We've had four years in Victoria of sustained investment in Victorian schools, and that has delivered this year, Victoria's best ever NAPLAN results.
Investing in our kids, investing in our schools, investing in our teachers and our principals makes a difference in children's lives. It changes their lives. This is an investment in our nation's future, and it is exactly what we've been calling for.
SHORTEN: Thanks, James. Are there any questions for Tanya or I or James?
JOURNALIST: Just on the question of school funding, when do we get a detailed breakdown of how that money will be spent?
PLIBERSEK: There’s two things. There is a detailed breakdown of state by state figures, how much better off states will be and we will be able to tell you approximately how much better off school by school over the coming weeks. So we will be able to give parents a lot of good information about how much better off their school will be, how much better off their child will be in coming weeks.
As for how the money will be used, well, you can see how we've used extra funding in the past. Schools have used that money to transform learning in their classrooms. In the early years of extra funding under Labor, we saw more one-on-one attention. We saw kids who are struggling get the help they needed to catch up.
That has meant that in a school where you had kids who were struggling below national averages for reading, for maths, for writing, for science, we've been able to get those kids up to the national average. It's meant in high schools we've had more kids who were previously struggling, get the help they need and go onto university. We've seen the transformation in the early years of needs based funding. That's why it's so very sad that the the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government came in and slashed funding from our schools, prevented that growth, prevented that extra investment.
We also, when we were last in government, had a very clear reform agenda. It's not just about extra money, it's about how we spend that extra money, how we invest it and we worked with the states and territories, with teachers, with education experts, to focus on the things that made the greatest difference in the classroom. When the Abbott Government came in, they junked those reforms.
In five years they've put nothing in their place, so for five years we've had no reform agenda for our schools. It means a kid who started high school when Tony Abbott became Prime Minister will finish high school with no changes driven by the Commonwealth Government in their schooling. It's a tragic wasted opportunity.
JOURNALIST: In coming weeks, just sorry on that point though, it's a bit vague how long I mean realistically are we looking at it, are we looking at next month or two or the election could be May away.
PLIBERSEK: Sorry, what's your specific question?
JOURNALIST: You said in coming weeks, so I think people are more, are interested in getting more specific details, I just wonder if you can be more precise and when we'll actually get the breakdown of states and schools?
PLIBERSEK: You will get it in coming weeks. The election is going to be we expect, May next year. We will have plenty of time to work with principals and teachers, and parents across schools right across Australia.
We've got 2.5 million Australian children who go to public schools and I can guarantee you that every one of those kids, their parents and grandparents will know just how much better off they'll be under Labor's investment, historic investment, in public schools.
We've got a global figure today, $14.1 billion over the decade. You've heard the figure for Victoria - $804 million over the first three years alone. I’ll be making announcements with other states and territories in coming days and weeks, and we will be able to give school-by-school figures as well, and you bet that our candidates, our Members of Parliament, our Senators and all of the community activists who have been calling for fair funding for our schools will be making that known.
JOURNALIST: Can you guarantee there will be no special deals with states over funding?
SHORTEN: Okay, let's talk about it. I want to go to both your first question and your second question.
Only the Labor Party has got a fair dinkum education vision for Australia and handing on a better deal to our kids. We announced on Sunday our Fair Go Action Plan. Reversing cuts to education is one of our key five visions for Australia. This government - the Morrison Government is all at sea when it comes to education funding.
They've done a patch-up deal for low-fee Catholic schools and independent schools because they were feeling political backlash. Well, they haven't seen anything yet. How dare this government treat the parents who send their kids to public schools and the kids who go to public schools as second class. Parents who send their children to government schools have a legitimate right to see some of the taxes they pay to Canberra re-invested in their children's education. Labor is not going to see one sector of the education system treated as second-class. We've also got a plan on education in preschool. Only Labor is saying that we want all 3-year-olds in Australia to get access to universal preschool. That's a great start in life.
Labor is proposing to pay the up-front fees for 100,000 people going to TAFE. We've said that we will uncap university places which will see 200,000 kids and adults get the chance to go to university. We are the party of education and we are the party of giving the next generation a better deal than the ones we inherited because that's what we believe in, and we're going to do it, because we believe in better schools, not richer multinationals. We can pay for our promises, we don't view education as some sort of political leak to be plugged. We view it as the best gift we can hand to our kids.
JOURNALIST: How will you stop the states - once you chip in more money, how do you stop them from taking money out of education?
SHORTEN: Well, that will be part of the agreements which Tanya Plibersek will negotiate with the states. And the other thing - sorry, I didn't answer your second point, you talked about special deals. Do you know what a special deal is? It's when Mr Morrison prioritises dealing with one sector of education over government schools.
I believe all kids should be treated equally. I don't think it should matter which system that you send your kids to, you should get funding from Canberra. I think Mr Morrison needs to be called on by the parents of 2.5 million kids - why does Mr Morrison think that funding public education and cutting their education you can get away with it, when you can't get away with it in other sectors? We are calling that on. Every kid in Australia and the kids who go to public schools deserve to be treated as first-class, because they are.
JOURNALIST: Can you guarantee there will be no special deals from your side of politics with the states over funding?
SHORTEN: I'm not even going to bother feeding that answer. The fact of the matter is we have eight different state and territory education systems.
I don't buy the government propaganda that properly funding public education is a special deal. I actually think cutting $14.1 billion is a disaster, and Labor prioritises the education of our kids over the bottom line profits of multinationals and tax concessions for the very wealthy. It's all about choices. Politics is all about choices. We’re choosing the kids. The government would choose tax concessions for the very wealthy. It's all about choices.
JOURNALIST: Quick change of topic if I may, just on the Ruddock review, we've waited five months and we're still yet to get any details, just what's your response on that part, but particularly now the reports that suggest religious schools may be guaranteed the right to turn away gay students and teachers, what do you make of that?
SHORTEN: I can't believe that any Prime Minister hasn't ruled out creating new laws to discriminate against kids in education. I think it's a silly proposal. This whole Ruddock review has been cloaked in secrecy. The government invited the public to make submissions, that's happened. The government received a report in May, the experts have written the report. It has now been five months and Mr Morrison is keeping a secret report under lock and key until after the Wentworth by-election.
Labor is challenging Mr Morrison, If you're not planning anything nasty, reveal the report before the Wentworth by-election. If you're not going to do anything nasty, then be up front with the Australian people. If Mr Morrison won't release this secret report before the Wentworth by-election he is telling the voters in Wentworth that he doesn't trust them. It is an expert report. What could be in that report which is so bad that it has to remain hidden?
As for the specific discussion today, that they are contemplating new laws to discriminate against kids on the basis of sexuality - no way. The fact of the matter is that every child is entitled to human dignity. We shouldn't even be having this debate.
JOURNALIST: And teachers?
SHORTEN: The same goes. People should not be - there should be no extension of discriminatory rights against people in this country. Mr Morrison said recently that he wants everyone to love each other. It is not very loving to hide a report from the Australian voter and to propose new discriminations against parts of the Australian population.
JOURNALIST: The New South Wales Premier wants New South Wales immigration intake to be cut in half. Is that feasible?
SHORTEN: Well, it is a sad state of affairs in Australia when the two top elected Liberals in Australia are contradicting each other. The Premier of New South Wales has got a different view on population to the Prime Minister. That doesn't help congestion, that doesn't help infrastructure pressure in our big cities.
Labor proposed on Saturday to the Prime Minister let's just get on and fix this population debate. Let's have a proper task force, both sides of politics, let's get all levels of government. You see what happens, when Mr Morrison wants to ignore Labor's sensible suggestion to be bipartisan, to step beyond the usual he said-she said politics, we just get stuck in this painful cycle of Liberals fighting each other.
No wonder people hate politics, when you've got the top Liberal in Australia, Mr Morrison, contradicting the second top-elected Liberal in Australia, Premier Berejiklian - they are just chaos. These Liberals can't - they need a spell in opposition frankly, because they're never going to get their act together in government.
JOURNALIST: Just finally from me, the Australian Banking Association says it is will overhaul the way institutions manage a customer's estate when they have died to ensure fees are no longer charged for services never received. Why do you think they're doing this now?
SHORTEN: The only reason that Australian banking is discovering a long lost conscious is because Labor pushed for a Banking Royal Commission. Never forget, the current Prime Minister voted 26 times against having a Royal Commission into banks, said there was no need, attacked Labor and yet it turns out that the misconduct in the banking sector was even worse than most people imagined.
Most Australians, when they speak to me about banks and about the Banking Royal Commission are perplexed. If you steal from a bank, you go to jail, if a bank steals from you they get a bonus.
JOURNALIST: Just a couple of questions on energy, does Labor support the idea of a long term plan for Australia to get out of coal-fired power altogether by 2050?
SHORTEN: Well I think we need a long-term plan for energy in this country, but coal is going to be part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future. But what we need to do is create investment certainty, write out what the rules are so that we can get more renewable energy.
I make no apologies for being a fan of renewable energy. It's getting cheaper and I want to make it more accessible to small business and to consumers. The beauty of renewable energy is that we could be a renewable energy superpower. We've got fantastic access to beautiful sun, to wind, the technology is improving every day. Australian scientists are amongst the best in the world. It'll drive down prices, create jobs and it will be good for the environment.
I think the problem for the government is that they've had five years to resolve energy policy and climate change policy. Energy prices are getting higher and carbon pollution is getting worse. This government, I don't see them doing much in the next six months to turn the corner, and that's why I think we need a change of government because Labor is committed to cleaner, cheaper energy.
JOURNALIST: Should Scott Morrison take a leadership role and attend this year's UN Climate talks in Poland.
SHORTEN: I haven’t thought about that.
PLIBERSEK: He could take his coal with him.
SHORTEN: He could take a lump of coal, pack it in his day bag.
I'm not sure what this Government’s got to say about climate change at home or abroad. The real reason why energy prices are going up in Australia is because there has been a lack of policy certainty. See if there's no policy certainty, if you don't know the rules, then what happens is no one is going to invest in new power generation. So what improvements there have been have almost been despite this government's carry on.
They got rid of Malcolm Turnbull because, I think because he wanted to take action on climate change. They proposed a National Energy Guarantee, we've said we will look at that. Now the government has walked away from it. This government doesn't have an energy policy, it is suspicious and at war with renewable energy. If Mr Morrison was to go overseas and talk about this government's credentials, it would be a pretty quick visit.
One last question if there is one? All good, thanks James, thanks Tanya.