The Facts: Scott Morrison's $14 billion public school cuts

The Facts: Scott Morrison's $14 billion public school cuts

The Coalition record on schools is a record of public school cuts.

The cuts started with Tony Abbott’s $30 billion cut to schools in the 2014 Budget. Those cuts have never been fully reversed.

As Treasurer, Scott Morrison was the one who delivered a $14 billion cut to public schools in 2017. It was his budget that led to signed agreements with state and territory governments being ripped up and not honoured.

Scott Morrison’s public school cuts hit hardest the students who need help the most. When you cut public school funding you cut funding for students with disability, you cut funding for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, you cut funding for students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, you cut funding for students at risk of falling behind.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s only school policy has been to hand $4.6 billion to private schools. That is his idea of a fair go: billions for private schools that don’t need it and nothing for public schools. He said no special deals and delivered the biggest special deal in history.

His cuts will leave 99% of public schools below a national resource standard and 99% of private schools at or above it. Getting schools to the national minimum resource standard is the only way to ensure all schools have the resources to meet the needs of all students. Schools will never reach the minimum standard under Scott Morrison's policies.

The Coalition’s record on school funding

During the 2013 federal election the Liberal Party promised to match Labor's school funding promise "dollar for dollar". Instead, they scrapped signed agreements with States and Territories and legislated school funding cuts.

Tony Abbott included a $30 billion cut in the first budget in 2014

  • The Coalition’s first budget in 2014 included a $30 billion cut to Commonwealth spending on schools. The government flagged at that point it would cut the funding from the final two years (2018 and 2019) of signed Gonski funding agreements with five states and territories and would cut the rate of indexation for every school to the Consumer Price Index (2.5% estimated).
  • Key quote from 2014/15 Budget Paper No.3: “The previous government’s policies in the areas of public hospitals and schools funding have been revealed to be growing unsustainably into the medium-term, lessening State accountability for their service delivery decisions. The Commonwealth has acted now to address this situation by moving to more realistic funding arrangements for public hospitals (from 1 July 2017) and schools (from 1 January 2018). Whilst preserving the Commonwealth’s commitment of funding for the Students First Programme over the forward estimates period, these changes generate total savings of over $80 billion in the period to 2024-25.” (BP3 2014/15)
  • In this Budget the Government is adopting sensible indexation arrangements for schools from 2018, and hospitals from 2017-18, and removing funding guarantees for public hospitals. These measures will achieve cumulative savings of over $80 billion by 2024-25.”

Turnbull tried to walk away from funding public schools at all

  • In 2016 Malcolm Turnbull put forward a tax reform proposal that would end federal funding of public schools and leave the Federal Government just to fund private schools.

Morrison delivered $22 billion cut in the 2017 budget

  • In the 2017 Budget Treasurer Scott Morrison reduced the size of cuts to $22 billion over 10 years from 2018-2027.
  • The size of the cut, compared to honouring state and federal agreements and leaving school funding laws unchanged (Labor’s position), was confirmed in a leaked government briefing paper.

 $17 billion school cut after negotiations with the Senate

  • During Senate negotiations the government was forced to commit an extra $5 billion reducing the cut to $17 billion.
  • Malcolm Turnbull still boasted about the cut the day the legislation went through Parliament: We are saving money for the budget, reducing Labor’s waste, reducing their inconsistencies, spending more money than we anticipated or we planned for last year, but spending it where it is needed and delivering that consistency that Australian students deserve.” (Liberal Party Federal Council Dinner 23/6/17)

$1.9b cut in 2018 and 2019 for public schools and $14b over a decade

  • The Federal Government in 2017 unilaterally ended five signed state and territory agreements on school funding, refusing to deliver the final two years of funding (2018 and 2019).
  • Labor released Parliamentary Budget Office costings showing that in 2018 and 2019 the cut to public schools was $1.87 billion (85% of the cuts).
  • Over ten years, that means public schools’ share of the $17 billion in cuts is over $14 billion

$14 billion school cuts mean cuts to disability funding

  • Students with disability funding accounted for over 9 per cent of Commonwealth funding in 2019 according to the Commonwealth.
  • If you apply that proportion to the $14 billion public schools are being denied, you get a cut of over $1 billion in funding for students with disability
  • Figures released to the AEU under FOI showed disability funding went backwards in five states and territories (ACT, NT, WA, SA and TAS) between 2017 and 2018 for students with disability in public schools. The reductions were greatest in the places where disadvantage is greatest: NT (27.1%) and Tasmania (41.7%)
2017 54.9 47.6 17.5 9 27.1
2018 51 46.3 10.2 8.3 19.7

Source: Commonwealth Department of Education.

Capital funding cut for public schools

  • Between 2009 and 2017 the Commonwealth delivered a combined stream of capital and recurrent funding for public schools.
  • But the decision by Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison in 2017 to direct all funding for public schools towards a recurrent target of 20% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) by 2023 effectively ended capital funding for public schools.
  • In contrast, private schools have their own capital fund which was increased to $1.9 billion over ten years - along with recurrent funding that will total a minimum of 80% of the SRS by 2023. (Senate Question on Notice SQ17-001197)
  • The NSW Government protested against this inequity in its submission to the Gonski 2.0 inquiry stating: “Current Commonwealth funding arrangements provide recurrent funding to government and non-government schools against the Schooling Resource Standard as well as capital funding to non-government schools. NSW has significantly increased its capital commitment to all schools and the Commonwealth should also consider contributing to meet the future needs of communities for schools.”

The Morrison $4.6 billion special deal for private schools

  • Morrison claimed in 2017 there should be no special deals: “Now, there shouldn't be special deals. There should be one deal and it should be based on the needs of every single student. That's what we're putting forward. Others will make their case, as they can and as they should. But what we're saying to the Australian people is that every child in every school should be able to get the support they need not as a result of a special deal, but based on what they need.” Interview with Laurie Oakes 7/5/17
  • Then delivered a special deal, announced on September 20 2018, will deliver $4.6 billion extra to private schools and nothing to public schools.
  • The funding plan extends secret deals for overfunded private schools that will deliver millions extra for the richest schools in 2019, allows private schools to be funded according to a 2011 measure of need until 2022, extends private school overfunding until 2029 and includes a $1.2 billion slush fund for private schools to spend in any way they want.

The Morrison bilateral agreements for states and territories

  • Late 2018, the Morrison Government coerced states into signing its bilateral agreements by threatening to withhold funding for 2019. The resultant agreements will have a devastating impact on funding for public schools over the next few years.
  • An AEU analysis of the Morrison government’s agreements show they will leave 99 per cent of public schools below the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) by 2023.
  • By contrast, 99 per cent of private schools will be funded at, or above, the SRS by 2023