Doorstop Interview, Adelaide
Topics: Funding for South Australian schools
Simon Birmingham: This is a humiliating back-down by Jay Wetherill but it’s a welcome one for South Australian schools who can now be certain they will receive the Turnbull Government’s record $1.3 billion in funding for them next year. It means we can put the petty political games aside, it was eight days ago that Jay Weatherill and the Labor party decided they wanted to hold South Australian schools to ransom. I’m pleased they’ve given up that fight, given up fighting with Canberra on this issue and that we can put South Australian schools and school children first.
Journalist: Did the Federal Government force the State Government into this, the threat of $1.3 billion which would have led to school closures?
Simon Birmingham: The federal laws have been clear all along that an agreement had to be in place to make sure that the SA Government was using school funding on schools. That is not unreasonable, Susan close herself said it was only ever a bunch of motherhood statements, so it was always a mystery as to why she then refused to sign.
Journalist: So you’re saying that would have happened all along basically?
Simon Birmingham: The Turnbull Government ‘s $1.3 billion, a record sum for SA schools has always been on the table and thankfully now will flow into South Australian schools next year.
Journalist: The $210 million that the states now not going to get that it would have got under the previous agreement; the State Government says that is going to lead to less well trained teachers. What is your response to that?
Simon Birmingham: The State Government has been talking about fantasy money that Julia Gillard promised way back in 2013 for a long time. What we’re delivering next year is real money and it’s real extra money. It will see $1.3 billion flowing to South Australian schools, an increase of about ten per cent in terms overall SA government funding. That’s a huge increase and I trust there going to use it well to the benefit of schools, teachers and most importantly students.
Journalist: So if this agreement wasn’t made, would state schools have shut down?
Simon Birmingham: Well that really would have been a matter for the State Government. I’m pleased they’ve come to their senses, signed, the record funding will flow and that the State Government doesn’t now have to consider putting in place some sort of back-up funding when the Federal funding was always there and available for the future.
Journalist: But it’s federal funding they’re talking about, this $1.3 billion which would have meant that schools wouldn’t have been able to run?
Simon Birmingham: Well the State Government is always free to put extra money into schools itself and if they had decided to deny the Federal Government the legal opportunity to provide this funding for schools then Jay Weatherill and Susan Close would have had to make up the difference themselves.