Education funding

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — Let us retort: what a desperate, despicable and overly excitable attempt to put on the record a revisionist version of that lousy former government’s history in education. Where, ever, was its commitment to Gonski? What those opposite have to remember is that it is a long way from the classroom of the Haileybury debating class to a debate in this place about what really happened in the time when the member for Ferntree Gully was in government. I will tell the member what happened. He should come down to Hampton Park Primary School, which is still waiting for the money that should already be with that school.

On this side of the Parliament we give a Gonski. We give a damn about Gonski. When those students, teachers and parents were wearing badges in the schools they were saying they gave a Gonski too. What were they committing to? I quote:

The idea was to create a system where a student’s success at school would be determined by their ability, application and willingness to work hard rather than where they lived, what their family background was or whether they were Indigenous or had a disability.

Both sides of the Parliament should be signing up to that cause, because it is a really worthy cause. It is something every member should want to put on their CV. Every government would want that as its legacy. That is why in this year’s budget this Andrews Labor government has met — this is happening for the first time ever — this state’s obligations under Gonski. Those obligations are fully allocated for the 2016–17 years. It is all there to see in the budget papers. There are none of the dodgy numbers we see from others.

I remind those opposite that we not only have put the money there but are making up for this enormous shortfall, this enormous black hole, of over $800 million of funding that was taken away or not provided by this government for the children of Victoria as well as its parents and teachers. This short-sighted view of education has left the Victorian education system in a state of appalling disrepair, and this is why — —

An honourable member interjected.

Ms GRALEY — That is their legacy. As much as those opposite shout, as much as they come into this house and say other things, their legacy is one of a terrible government and a failed minister. If we want to talk about Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearings, we should go back to the time of the appearance before PAEC of the then Minister for Education, the member for Nepean. Members should have a look at the PAEC papers from 2014 and see what the then minister said. He thought he was doing a great job, mind you. He had unbelievable conceit. The exchange in the PAEC papers goes:

Mr DIXON — I think there is an important point that needs to be made here that I made earlier: there are not two separate buckets of money.

There are buckets of money running around. The exchange continues:

Mr PAKULA — Gonski money is extra.

Mr DIXON — It is not Gonski money and it is not state money. We see it as …—

blah, blah, blah. The exchange continues:

Mr SCOTT — This is nonsense. Who contributes it? …

Mr DIXON — Because it is one bucket of money, like any budget …

It went on and on. Later the exchange continues:

Mr DIXON — I will say it again: there are not two buckets of money. The school funding that we — —

Mr PAKULA — There is no Gonski money … There is no Gonski money …


Mr PAKULA — There is no extra money.

Mr DIXON — Both of those sources of funding are combined.

He was confused, he was mixed up, he was fumbling and he was bumbling, because the money was never there, and he knew it, and he was pathetically trying to cover up what was a disgraceful short-changing of Victorian schools of their money, which they needed to run the system properly. The system was falling apart, and all he could say was, ‘I think I did a great job’. I have news: nobody in the education system thought the government was doing a great job, and that is why people were wearing those badges. It is also why they were coming to the then shadow Minister for Education and telling him stories about how dilapidated their classrooms were, asking where their money was — they could not find the money that had been promised to them — and telling him about how their families were suffering because the education maintenance allowance had been slashed. What sort of government takes money away from the most disadvantaged families in Victoria and thinks that is good policy? I will tell members: it is a government that does not care. It just does not care. Its members did not give a Gonski.

The fact is that the conservative coalition government and its federal counterpart were never committed to educational reform. We see that in the report of the Auditor-General on costs for families, which showed it to us. While the government was trying to make things up, it was here in appendix A. In figure A2 there are all these lines, and in big letters appears ‘tba’, ‘tba’ — representing no money. Members opposite were sitting in their ministerial offices talking about six-year funding agreements, but there was never any commitment to it. It was a complete fraud. They were never committed, as we are, to building an education state. They never see funding as a very important matter for schools. That is why on coming back in this government has had to not only lay the foundations for building the education state but repair the damage the previous government did.

Half the spending on capital was removed by the previous government.

Imagine a school at Hampton Park that was ready to start the rebuild of a classroom and then was told it would have to keep waiting while money was spent elsewhere. What about a school in Fountain Gate that had improved its maths and literary skills so well that it had been promised national partnership funding, but somehow this was to come from one of the minister’s magical buckets of money and they never got to see it. That is what happened under members opposite when they were in government. Of course there are their federal counterparts in Canberra. There is the fixer, the federal Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne, who thinks that $100 000 degrees and not providing money for students with disabilities is the way to run an education system. I am telling you it is not.

On this side of the house the building of an education state is our no. 1 priority. That is why we have an education budget that is the biggest ever. We are making a record investment in rebuilding our schools. For the information of the TAFE wrecker, the member for Ferntree Gully, who spoke before me, we are rebooting and rebuilding our TAFE system, and I will give an example. Under the Bracks and Brumby governments nine new schools were built in my electorate. Not one was built during the term of the previous government, despite Berwick being the baby-boom capital of Victoria. Now that we are back in government, new schools are on their way. However — and this is a disgraceful statistic; you cannot rewrite history to this point — not one new school will open in 2016 in the growth areas, despite people moving out there in their droves and communities wanting their families to be well looked after.

This government is about building the education state. I must say that despite the loud cries coming from those opposite, the review being undertaken by former Premier Bracks has received enormous and loud applause from the education sector. When members opposite were in government for four years, people were wondering not only where the money was coming from, with most of it not coming, but how it was going to be delivered. This is going to be the most equitable and transparent funding review that will deliver a funding framework that will enable principals to plan for their school’s future and families will be well supported when they send their children to school.

The foundations of the education state are being constructed. There will be classrooms to support innovative learning, youth skills, technologies and infrastructure, teacher support and training and genuine partnerships with teachers, parents and communities. This is about putting Victorian children first. It is about putting Victorian families first. It is about putting the Victorian economy first. And we will do it.