Public education at the heart of an elected Labor government

5 April 2019

Labor leader Bill Shorten has reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to public education in his Budget reply speech.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that Labor’s commitments to invest in preschools, public schools and TAFE would give more Australians access to one of the world’s best public education systems.

“Labor’s commitments to put public education first is welcome news to teachers and parents across Australia, after six years of a Coalition government whose main priority has to been private schools and for cuts to public education,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Public schools teach two thirds of our school students, TAFE provides world-class public vocational education to Australian workers and apprentices, and preschool is vital to the development of our children.”

“Bill Shorten has shown that Labor understands that investment in public education is investment in our future and in nation-building. It’s time that Australia puts public education first,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Ms Haythorpe said the Morrison Government had a record of failure when it came to public education. Its Federal Budget included:

  • no restoration of the $14 billion in public school funding cuts
  • no capital works funding for public schools. Only a one-off $200,000 per electorate for libraries, classrooms and play equipment, while private schools continue to enjoy a $1.9 billion capital works fund
  • no guarantee of ongoing permanent funding for 15 hours of preschool for four-year-old children and no funding for three-year-olds
  • no reversal of the $3 billion it has cut from VET since elected. $525 million over five years to “upgrade the VET sector” with not a single mention of TAFE in the Budget papers
  • a clear indication of its privatisation agenda with industry to design the qualifications and reshape VET

By contrast, Labor has committed to reversing the Morrison Government’s $14 billion of cuts to public school funding over the next decade, including investing $3.3 billion back into public schools in the first three years of a Shorten Labor government.

Labor also promised to provide $1.75 billion to guarantee ongoing funding for two years of Early Childhood Education (ECE) for every child via its National Preschool and Kindy Program.

Ms Haythorpe welcomed Labor’s guarantee that at least two out of every three dollars of public funding would go to public TAFE under a Shorten Government.

“Labor’s $1 billion investment in TAFE and apprentices will help revitalise the public vocational education sector in Australia,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Labor’s commitment to hold a National Inquiry into Post-Secondary Education is widely supported across the sector and will ensure our vocational education system is ready to face the future.”

“The ALP’s investment in TAFE is very welcome news to our TAFE community,” Ms Haythorpe said

“The Morrison Government has failed the fairness test when it comes to public education.”

“The choice is clear. We need a government which puts public education first. If this is Scott Morrison’s idea of a fair go, then it’s time for Mr Morrison to go,” Ms Haythorpe said.