Labor’s Education Spokesperson has this morning once again shown herself to be more focused on playing politics and scaremongering than engaging in constructive conversation about how we help our students and schools so we can help Australian students get the most out of their education.

It’s only the Federal Education Minister that’s saying that money doesn’t matter and he’s saying that because he’s cut $30 billion from our schools over the next 10 years.
– Tanya Plibersek, Interview on ABC AM, 15/12/16

FACT: While a strong level of funding matters and we have that, what you do with it matters even more. The Turnbull Government is determined to establish a new schools funding deal post-2017 that will leverage evidence-based reforms to boost student outcomes and that will ensure need informs how our record level of funding is distributed.

There are no cuts to schools funding – the Coalition will build on the existing record base for federal funding, which will grow from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020.

Year Schools funding (recurrent calendar year)
2014 $13.7 billion
2015 $14.9 billion
2016 $16.0 billion
2017 $17.4 billion
2018 $18.2 billion
2019 $19.1 billion
2020 $20.1 billion

The only cuts to schools were from then-Education Minister Bill Shorten who withheld $1.2 billion from Queensland, WA and NT schools in 2013 when they did not sign up to Labor’s funding model.

…there’s also a lot of confusion about any reforms he might be proposing…
– Tanya Plibersek, Interview on SKY News, 15/12/16

FACT: It’s time for Australian leaders, educators and families to focus on what works in our schools, which is why I am taking a comprehensive package of reforms to the Education Council meeting on Friday. Our quality-focused and evidence-based priority reforms will ensure funding distribution is needs-based and drives reform in core, robust and proven ways of improving outcomes in education. Our comprehensive 17-page Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes reform agenda was outlined in May.

…the Liberals before they came in to Government said they were on a unity ticket with Labor on Gonski, they said you could vote Labor or Liberal and you wouldn’t get a dollar different to your school.
– Tanya Plibersek, Interview on ABC AM, 15/12/16

FACT: That was a never-never promise by Labor, beyond the forward estimates, never budgeted for, never paid for. The Turnbull Government, Malcolm Turnbull and I, could not have been clearer in the 2016 election about how much money was available for school funding in the future.

We will build on the existing record base for federal funding, which will grow from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020. Our growth means there’s no reason schools won’t be able to continue to support teachers and new or existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or targeted intervention programs.

The proposal that the Federal Government have at the moment means every child in every school in every system in every state will actually get less funding. I think we’ve got a Federal Education Minister who wants to distract attention from those large cuts.
– Tanya Plibersek, Interview on ABC AM, 15/12/16

FACT: Under the transition arrangements and 27 special funding deals Bill Shorten stitched up as education minister before the 2013 election, overwhelmingly schools do not meet the ‘Schooling Resource Standard’ (SRS) by 2019, or in some cases within the next 150 years. 

Under the current arrangements Bill Shorten authored, a disadvantaged student in one state receives up to $1,500 less federal funding than a student in another state in the exact same circumstance. Contrary to some claims, these gaps actually get worse with time, where in 2019 the difference blows out to more than $2,100.

The issues with Labor’s schools funding model is not a ‘distraction’. The Turnbull Government will correct the inequity and inconsistencies in schools funding that ‘Gonski’ report architect Ken Boston described as a “corruption” of needs-based funding by Bill Shorten.

[The recent international tests are] not proof that ‘Gonski’ doesn’t work, they’re the proof of exactly why we need needs-based funding.” 
– Tanya Plibersek, Interview on SKY News, 15/12/16

FACT: The ‘needs-based’ principle that underpins the so-called Gonski reforms is embedded in the Coalition’s ongoing funding for schools. As David Gonski said earlier this year, “needs based funding is what I pushed for, and we have that…. Neither party…are now against needs-based funding”. Needs-based funding is built into our existing and future funding models, ensuring students with higher needs receive more funding.

The scare campaign and politicking from Tanya Plibersek and Labor about schools funding detracts from the real conversation we need to be having. Evidence tells us to focus on the quality of teachers and teaching; the teaching of reading and maths; and the engagement of parents. That's exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing. 

The Turnbull Government is determined to deliver a simpler funding model where Labor’s special deals don’t distort a fair distribution of federal money and we will ensure our record investment in schools is distributed according to need and tied to the implementation of our evidence-backed quality reforms that have been proven to lift student achievement.

For further information on the Turnbull Government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes reforms, visit