PARLIAMENT HOUSE, Canberra: At the beginning of this debate about these amendments, the minister said that these 71 pages of amendments provide funding certainty for our schools. That is the claim that he made and I would like to put on the record that these amendments do no such thing. It is an extraordinary claim for the minister to make, because if these amendments did provide funding certainty, as he claims, then he would be able to tell every school in the nation exactly how much money they will receive next year and the year after and the year after and the year after that. But he cannot do that.
As the shadow minister, Christopher Pyne, pointed out, the minister was asked specifically in parliament only a few days ago, just in relation to one school, to inform the parliament what that one school would receive next year or the year after. Again, we do not know. When you look through these 71 pages of amendments, a framework is outlined and there are a lot of words. There are great complexities, formulas are introduced, but there is no detail for any school to determine how much money they will receive.
The reason for this is that there is so much complexity and there are so many loadings which have no consequential numbers attached to them. For example, there are supposed to be loadings in relation to location, in relation to the size of schools, in relation to disability, in relation to the capacity to pay. There are additional loadings for new and old per student amounts, but there is no detail. We do not know what those are. All we are given in these 71 pages of amendments are the base amounts. But for most schools that is just the beginning. If they were only to receive those base amounts then they would be significantly behind.
That is particularly the case for the more remote schools. In your electorate, Madam Deputy Speaker Livermore, some of the remote schools will have per student funding of $50,000 or $60,000. There is no indication in these amendments that those schools will not have their funding slashed. All this document gives is an initial per student amount as base funding.
Perhaps we could be satisfied that there is not sufficient detail at this stage if it were the very beginning of the process towards school funding. But we are not at the beginning of the process. Far from it, we are 100 days from the next election and six months before the new school year and schools have to plan for their budgets.
And what is more, we have had a House of Representatives inquiry and we have had the Gonski inquiry going on for 18 months. But the most damning point in relation to this is that this has actually been a nine-year process, because nine years ago was the last time that the Labor government—that the Labor Party—had a school-funding model. Nine years ago!
We have waited nine years to get to this point. Nine years, so that schools would know what they would be entitled to under a Labor government. We know what the policy was nine years ago: that was laid out very clearly in election documents—incredibly clearly for everybody to see. It was known as the ‘hit list’. But at least they were upfront and honest then in 2004. They said, very specifically—they were upfront and honest—that these schools would have their funding cut.
Now, nine years later we are still waiting for what the policy will be. And in those nine years they have bagged the current policy up hill and down dale. Almost every year, every month, every week and every day they have criticised the SES funding model, but they have not come up with an alternative. And so we have been waiting.
And when the minister tabled the 71 pages of amendments yesterday, we thought, ‘Finally, we will be able to see. Finally! One hundred days before the election—six months before a new school year and 18 months after Gonski and our House of Representatives inquiry, we will finally get the details’. But there are no details here. Schools still do not know, and if the minister does know the answers then perhaps he can get up now and say how much money individual schools will get next year, and the year after and the year after that, because at the moment the only certainty we know