Preschools, public schools and TAFE forgotten in Federal Budget


4 April 2019

The Morrison Government has failed to reverse funding cuts to public schools or TAFE in its 2019 Federal Budget, and overlooked community calls to provide funding certainty for parents and teachers in the preschool sector.

The Morrison Government’s 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 receive 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 the vocational education sector since elected. While it listed $525 million over five years to “upgrade the VET sector”, there was not a single mention of TAFE in the Budget papers
  • a clear indication of the Federal Coalition’s privatisation agenda, with industry to design the qualifications and reshape VET

The Morrison Government’s failure to fairly fund preschools, public schools and TAFE ignores the important role that the public education system plays in the community.

Two thirds of school students in Australia attend public schools, yet the Federal Budget has left 99 per cent of public schools under the Schooling Resource Standard. These schools have been left without the additional funding they need to provide smaller class sizes, more one-on-one teaching, and more support for students with disability.

By contrast, Labor has committed to reversing the Morrison Government’s $14 billion 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.

Evidence shows that preschool improves cognitive, social and emotional outcomes for young children, and is important in providing a strong foundation for learning. The Morrison Government’s announcement to roll over preschool funding for four-year-old children for only another twelve months contrasts with Labor’s commitment 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.

A strong public TAFE system must be at the heart of vocational education in Australia. However, since being in government the Federal Coalition has overseen:

  • 140,000 fewer apprentices now than when it was elected.
  • $3 billion cut from vocational education.
  • a decline in enrolments in vocational education and training.
  • a decline in TAFE enrolments in particular, which have plummeted by 24.5 per cent.

The Morrison Government’s Federal Budget included no additional specified funding for TAFE. Its announcement of $525 million for new apprenticeships is essentially a repackaging of existing funding for vocational education. Budget analysis shows there is just $55 million of new money for vocational education over five years. This is on top of $270 million in cuts from apprenticeships in last year’s Budget.

By contrast, Labor has guaranteed that at least two-thirds of all government funding will go to TAFE if it wins government. It has also said that it will conduct a comprehensive post-secondary review, which has been welcomed broadly across the sector.