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It's time to properly fund our public schools

Mehreen Faruqi 22 Jun 2021

Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (15:29): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services (Senator Reynolds) to a question without notice asked by Senator Faruqi today relating to private school funding.

It's clear that the government has no interest in properly funding our public schools. The Nine investigation published this month was only the latest evidence that this government continues to overfund private schools that are incredibly wealthy to begin with, that are educating the most privileged communities and that have also been accumulating immensely valuable assets, running big surpluses and making a mockery of the government's ostensible commitment to fairer school funding. The investigation's findings are obscene. The government continues to overfund the likes of these 50 schools, which share $8.5 billion worth of assets. The government is not even taking this extraordinary wealth into account when deciding funding arrangements.

Make no mistake, the current funding arrangements are cooked. Recent analysis from Save Our Schools found that, over the last decade, federal and state government funding for private schools increased by more than six times that of public schools. Per-student funding for each private school student increased by more than 22 per cent compared to just 2.4 per cent for public school students.

My office spoke recently with a public school teacher in Sydney who lamented that there were only two printers for a school with many hundreds of students. Teachers are buying stationery for their students from their own money. It's a very common story. Poor funding cannot be separated from chronic problems with staffing. When teachers called in sick at this particular school usually there were no casuals available to cover them. Classes would simply be merged and become bigger to accommodate all students that day. It is simply untenable and is symptomatic of a completely broken system. It's time that the government and Labor woke up to the reality that our public schools are in crisis. It's time to properly fund our public schools.

Question agreed to.


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