PM’s $1.2bn private school slush fund leaves public schools in the cold

25 October 2019

The Morrison Government’s admission yesterday that Australia’s richest private schools can access additional funding from the $1.2 billion Choice and Affordability Fund while public schools cannot is yet further proof of their blatant disregard for public schools and preference for private schools.

Senate Estimates heard yesterday that under the still to be published guidelines for the fund every private school in Australia, regardless of their financial wealth or exorbitant fees, would be able to access the $1.2 billion fund.

This revelation contradicts the government’s previous position that the purpose of the fund was to help provide access to low fee Catholic and independent schools. It also confirms that the Morrison Government has absolutely no plans to provide an equivalent for public schools.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the Morrison Government had completely and utterly abandoned the concept of needs-based school funding in Australia.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison forced funding deals on the states and territories which will leave 99% of public schools under the Schooling Resource Standard by 2023,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Public schools are also prevented from applying for additional funding from the $1.2 billion Choice and Affordability Fund. Yet elite private schools, some of which charge $70,000 a year for board and tuition, have unrestricted access to this additional funding. It is nothing but a Morrison Government private school slush fund.”

"It’s a shocking situation to have a Prime Minister who is so blatantly in favour of the private sector when the vast majority of students are in public schools."

Ms Haythorpe said the Morrison Government’s $1.2 billion Choice and Affordability Fund demonstrated the deep historical inequity when it came to school funding in Australia.

“How can anyone look at these school funding figures and describe the current arrangements as fair? On any reckoning, they are completely unfair,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Morrison Government quite clearly has failed in its moral obligation to fully fund public schools and ensure that all school children in Australia get a fair go and the opportunity to develop their potential.”

“In addition, while public school enrolments are skyrocketing they get no federal funding to build and maintain essential school infrastructure. Instead, Mr Morrison handed private schools a $1.9 billion capital works special deal,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The question must be asked - why does the Morrison Government persist in funneling millions of Commonwealth dollars into Australia’s richest elite private schools when they clearly do not need it? ” Ms Haythorpe said.

“He is encouraging public school funding inequity and entrenching inequality of student opportunity.”

“Prime Minister Morrison has made it clear that public schools are not a priority for his government.”