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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 19407

Transcript of joint doorstop interview

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/06/2013

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 19407


PM: Well I'm absolutely delighted to be here at Mitcham Primary School - my old school.

I've come with a variety of friends. Of course I am here with the Premier of South Australia, Senator Don Farrell, our candidate in this federal electorate of Boothby, where I grew up, where my family still lives, the federal electorate of Boothby Annabel Digance and we are joined too by Jennifer Rankin, the State Minister for Education.

The reason we're here in such force and such numbers is we are absolutely delighted to be together to announce that today the Premier and I have signed the National Education reform agreement for South Australia.

What that means is new resources for South Australian schools and an agreed agenda of improvement for South Australian schools.

I want to see South Australian school kids succeeding.

I want to see South Australian schools in the top five schooling systems in the world.

I want the kids who come to this school today, who go to all South Australian schools, to have their potential fully realised and for the economy of this State in the future it can only be as good and as strong as the quality of what's happening in the classrooms today.

Put simply, if South Australian kids fall behind the standards of the world, then South Australia can't have a strong economy in the future.

We have worked together and I would very much like to thank the Premier and his Government for the cooperation they have shown on school funding.

We have agreed an agenda for school improvement.

It is an agenda about better quality teaching, focusing on teacher quality because it is the single biggest thing that makes a difference to the quality of the education in a classroom.

Focusing on empowering school principals, on involving local school communities in decisions at school, continuing the roll out of the national curriculum; we know all of these things combined can work to make a difference.

I have seen it in schools where we have national partnership arrangements now; new ways of working, making a difference.

But in order to finance that you need new resources.

You need schools to be in a position where they have got the resources available to their school to teach the kids that go there.

To make sure that if they need that extra teaching because some of the kids are falling behind in reading, that it is there.

To make sure for the kids that are really at the top of the class and are absolutely champing to do more that those kids get personalised learning plans that extend them.

To make sure schools can employ the specialist teachers, the language teachers, school librarians, resources that make a real practical difference to whether kids learn to read and write and do maths at the standards we want them to.

So there will be new money for South Australian schools. Over the next 6 years the amount of new money is $656 million into base funding.

By the time you add indexation to that and we are guaranteeing our indexation rate of 4.7 per cent it becomes a total injection of $1.1 billion dollars more for South Australian schools.

It will be funded with the Federal Government picking up 65 per cent, the South Australian government picking up 35 per cent.

This mirrors the arrangement we've struck in other parts of the country like NSW and like the ACT.

I genuinely want to thank the Premier for putting the kids of South Australia first and today I do take the opportunity to call on premiers and the Chief Minister in the Northern Territory who haven't yet signed on to do the same thing and to put their kids first.

I turn now to the Premier for some comments.

PREMIER WEATHERILL: Well, thank you Prime Minister and congratulations on finally achieving this agreement here in South Australia and also congratulations on the leadership role that you have taken in this nation on this question of school funding.

This will, in the long term, make an extraordinary difference to the future prosperity of South Australia and the wellbeing of its citizens.

There can't be anything more important than investing in the people and that is what we are doing here with these school reforms.

For any parent out there that is thinking about their children, anybody that has children understands that there, within a family, there might be a couple of kids but they can be so different.

They all have extraordinary, unique needs and talents but unlocking the secret to meeting those needs and unlocking those talents requires excellent teaching and that individual attention that is needed for each of those children can only come if the teacher actually has the time and the space to meet those needs.

To be able to work with your child to actually understand your child and what it is that allows them to progress.

It will be different things for every child.

Sometimes it will require a bit of extra help, it might be some speech pathology.

It may be that one child is just racing ahead of the other children in the class and needs some special attention to make sure they continue to be challenged.

Or there might be a child that has some particular behavioural issues that need to be addressed.

All of those things, all the complexities, the rich complexities and differences that exist across our whole classroom is something that these school reforms are directed to.

It requires first-class teachers that understand how to actually meet those needs and it requires the resources that allow them to put into the classroom the things that are going to make a difference.

That's what this is all about.

We know what quality teaching looks like, we know what quality leadership looks like.

We also know what great schools look like and there are many in our system.

We want all of the schools and all of the teachers to be lifted to that standard and that is what these resources give us the opportunity to do everywhere in the nation.

That is why this is such an important reform.

That is why I am so proud to be standing here with the Prime Minister pledging South Australia's agreement..

PM: Thank you very much. Just briefly before we go to questions, I am aware that a number of you want to ask questions relating to the interview I did yesterday with Mr Howard Sattler.

Can I just say to you I'm not intending to make any comments on that interview, except to say this.

I've seen the remarks of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, where she has spoken about her concerns that things like this send a message to women and to girls not to be involved in public life.

I am concerned about that too and having seen so many young girls today, I don't want to see a message like that sent to those young girls.

I want young girls and women to be able to feel like they can be included in public life and not have to face questioning like the questioning I faced yesterday.

I will take questions now.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can you explain the difference in the funding that was previously offered and the new funding?

Also the per capita amount of additional funding under this scheme for South Australia is less than some other states.

Is South Australia being punished for committing more money to education in the past?

PM: Sure, they are both good questions and I am happy to answer both of them.

When we first announced our offers to states, we announced base funding and we pledged indexation.

The base funding then for South Australia was $566 million.

We have worked in the meantime with the South Australia Government to study and refine the figures.

Particularly to get a more accurate view of the starting point in 2014 and having done that, the way the model works is that the figures do increase to the figure that we announced today - $1.1 billion in total, $656 million in new base funding.

So there is always work to do and we knew we would have to do that work with jurisdictions around the country.

In terms of the comparison between South Australia and other states, South Australia has been a long term strong funder of school education, and that is a great tribute to the Government.

It does mean that South Australia is therefore closer to the school resource standard.

The aim of these reforms is that for all of the schools around the country 9500 of them, they have got available to them the school resource standard, including loadings, so they have got the right amount of money to teach the kids in that school.

So it recognises that kids from poor homes come to school and they need extra effort and extra resources in their education, so do kids from non-English speaking backgrounds.

So the model works to make sure around the country we can all say to each other that our schools have got the right resources to teach our children not just now but for generations to come.

So South Australia was closer to the school resourcing standard and that explains the difference.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister does that difference then mean that we have more disadvantaged students than we previously thought?

PM: No, it's a difference with the starting point and the figures in 2014.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, does that mean that you'll be considering increasing the funding offers to Victoria and Queensland and you've already increased it to Western Australia but to the other states that haven't signed?

PM: Well we've been joking with the kids today about doing maths.

There is a lot of maths in all of these school funding offers.

What we have done is we have continued to refine the understanding of things like the cost base in South Australia, the understanding of the starting point here.

That is what is changing the figures.

The model is the same as the model I agreed with New South Wales and the model is the model that is on the table with other jurisdictions.

Now when it comes to Queensland and Victoria, if they start fully cooperating and giving us their real figures, yes, it is possible.

The maths might change.

What we have done is the best we can do when states aren't cooperating with us.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on that resourcing standard, you say South Australia is closer, but South Australia's NAPLAN results are consistently lower than some of the other states.

Doesn't that demonstrate that money isn't necessarily going to be the solution?

PM: I want to be very clear, the agreement we have signed today is about money for schools, but it's also about new ways of working.

It is called the National Plan for School Improvement for a reason, and that is that is all about lifting standards in schools.

Kids who couldn't read and write, learning to read and write.

Kids that couldn't do maths, getting to do maths at the right standard, kids that weren't going to come out of primary school prepared for high school, coming out of primary school ready to go.

These things are the improvements we want to see and we know we can do it because we have worked over five years on these reforms.

Transparency, so we knew what was happening in schools.

National curriculum, to lift the quality of the curriculum.

New school buildings and new school equipment and national partnerships, schools including disadvantaged schools where we have gone and worked with new resources and we can demonstrate having done that, the kids get a better result.

What these resources enable is that, that approach, that improvement, to be done right around South Australia and I am obviously hoping right around the nation because I don't want to see any kids left behind.

Which is why I do want to see the other Premiers do what the South Australian Premier, Premier Weatherill, has been prepared to do today.

I should have said in answer to your question, the working of the model means that if numbers of children from say poorer backgrounds increase for whatever reason then the model works so that that flows new resources.

This is about the needs for kids in schools.

So there is the base amount of funding and then the loadings, including the loadings for children including from disadvantaged backgrounds.

So if you saw more children from disadvantaged backgrounds more loading funding would flow.

JOURNALIST: How much is, where is that extra funding coming from, the funding for South Australia, from the State Government and the Federal Government, where exactly? PM: Well, for us, we made provision at Budget time in our contingency reserve so that we would have a pool of money available to us as we work through with states and territories and refined the calculations based on the model.

JOURNALIST: Premier, can we ask you - you made the point when you were going through the River Murray debate that you weren't going to sign up to a deal that didn't recognise the contributions that South Australia had made in the past.

Why are you now signing up to a deal which gives you less money than other states because you have already spent money?

WEATHERILL: Because we are trying to get to a standard.

The standard is the amount of resource that's necessary to ensure that children have an excellent education.

So that is the standard we are not prepared to compromise, just as we weren't prepared to compromise on the river, what the river needed to be healthy.

So the objectives have never been compromised.

The fact that we have a shorter distance to travel is to the credit of the South Australia Government in all of its forms over previous decades.

We have invested in education in this state.

So we continue to provide the support and resources that are necessary for people in South Australia and that's what when agreement is about.

JOURNALIST: But given your budget position aren't now at a relative disadvantage to your competitors interstate where those states may be spending less per capita on education now as a result of getting a bigger slice from the Federal Government?

WEATHERILL: I don't want to get into a long complicated argument about horizontal fiscal equalisation, but South Australia can't be disadvantaged in terms of commonwealth/state financial relations because the way in which those commonwealth/state financial relations work. JOURNALIST: Did you negotiate as hard as you could?

Obviously South Australia is the second state to sign up and there's some time to the deadline.

Could you have gone harder and secured more money for South Australia?

WEATHERILL: I think this is a very beneficial arrangement for South Australia and I'm very pleased to have reached agreement.

JOURNALIST: When will the South Australian funding kick in?

When will you put South Australian funding in, in 2014?

WEATHERILL: Yes, straight away. We put money in straight away and obviously we reach the standard in 2018/19.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

WEATHERILL: Yes, at the time when I was asked questions about funding for education, I said that there were sufficient reserves that were available to meet the commitment that we would need to make to reach agreement and we have now reached agreement and we will draw on those reserves.

JOURNALIST: Some of that is the $70 million from DisabilityCare?

WEATHERILL: Well in the long term, the truth is being able to consume both the DisabilityCare and the education funding reforms would have placed very significant burden on South Australia.

So there is no doubt that the additional funding that comes to us through the striking of the additional Medicare levy, a quarter of which comes to South Australia, has made this affordable for South Australia.

But in the short term in terms of the forward estimates, the four years that we publish, that's well within the reserves that we have set for ourselves.

JOURNALIST: How much in the first year from the South Australia government?

WEATHERILL: I will provide you with the details.

JOURNALIST: In terms of nuts and bolts, will we see improved ratios of teacher to student...

WEATHERILL: What parents will see is the individual needs of their children met.

If that means more individual attention with more teachers, that's what will happen.

If it's more school service officer support, that's what will happen.

If specialist support needs to be brought into their schools, occupational therapy, the speech therapy, that will be brought into schools.

If it is about a specialist teacher, a language teacher, a physical education teacher, if it's about resources, particular resources, or a guest educator that might come in on a specific topic.

All of those things become possible and that's what this funding arrangement allows schools to do.

Excellent leaders working with first-class teachers, focusing on what will unlock the talents of every individual child within a classroom, and you need resources to do that.

This is a very resource intensive business.

If you want the time to be able to spend with each individual child, that requires additional resources in the classroom.

That's what this funding formula gives us.

JOURNALIST: The bulk of the Medicare levy, the extra funding comes from 2018/19, but you're proposing to spend that money straightaway is that...

WEATHERILL: No, no, obviously the national plan for school improvement and the funding ramps up the very substantial commitments occur at about the same time as the funding comes to South Australia

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

WEATHERILL: I will provide you with a breakdown of all of that, but essentially it ramps up to the point where it's very substantial in the years when the National Disability Insurance Scheme also kicks in.

So we have two very substantial commitments which have been

JOURNALIST: But it's more than another election cycle away...

WEATHERILL: But they are locked in.

In terms of Disability Care, that's an agreed lock-in matter and hopefully these reforms will be agreed locked-in matters between the Commonwealth and State Government.

JOURNALIST: The June 30 deadline was about giving schools certainty but do they have certainty?

The Coalition says that they'll repeal the Gonski reforms so they're still in a sense without certainty? Is that?

PM: Well, they will have it from us.

It's all at risk on September 14. What they know from me and this government is that we've worked hard to improve schools and if re-elected, we will continue to do that by honouring the agreement that I have entered into with the Premier today.

I do note that the Shadow Minister for Education Christopher Pyne has now made it crystal-clear that if the Opposition is elected as the government they will repeal all of this before the start of next school year.

So from us, certain. We will now work with the South Australian government on what the school-by-school figures are, so people can see that.

From us, certain.

From Mr Abbott, all at risk.

JOURNALIST: Does that include even if the other states don't sign up?

PM: As I understand the words of the Shadow Minister for Education now he has committed the Opposition to repealing all of this if they are elected before the start of the next school year.

JOURNALIST: Premier, how would that affect us?

WEATHERILL: Well it would be a disaster for the children of South Australia.

That's why people should think very carefully about how they vote at the next federal election and not just on this.

There is a whole tranche of things.

Any self-respecting South Australian citizen, if they look at the threat under GST, $980m ripped out of South Australia.

The threat to Holden, the closure of Holden - that's what we know is going to happen.

Holden aren't bluffing, they've closed German plants.

They won't re-invest without the commitment that the current Federal Government has made.

Should the Coalition form a government, Holden would close.

We know they would love to find a way of backing out of the River Murray agreement.

These are all critical issues for South Australia. South Australia's interests are served by the policies of Federal Labor and this has to be front and centre in people's considerations.

Of course these reforms are massively in South Australia's interests and every state and territory if they thought about it for a moment and didn't play politics would realise that having the commonwealth government funding the private school system and the state governments funding the public school system is not in the long-term interest of public education.

Because the fiscally stronger level of government is funding one sector and the less strong fiscal level of government is funding the public education system.

It's just not where you would want to be if you actually want public education to prosper.

That's why we have now - we get to abolish the distinction between commonwealth and state government funding with this agreement.

You don't have to talk about in the future the notion of commonwealth and state governments funding education.

There is just one funding system for wherever your student goes, wherever your child goes to school, whether its private education or public education, they will be guaranteed a certain standard of funding.

This will be an extraordinary achievement if we can make this happen and it is up for grabs.

JOURNALIST: Premier, I can't help but notice you are wearing a blue tie today, is that a coincidence?

WEATHERILL: I prefer to think of it as purple.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on that topic, do you feel the events of this week justify your speech about sexism in Sydney earlier this week?

PM: I'm not going to answer that question on the basis I suspect it would draw me into commenting on Mr Sattler and I'm not intending to.

JOURNALIST: Given your concerns that women would be put off going into public life, do you think suspension of Howard Sattler is appropriate?

PM: I'm not answering any question on that.

JOURNALIST: What about Bill Shorten. Are you concerned about Bill Shorten challenging your leadership?

PM: I've seen some nonsense in today's newspapers and I'm not concerned about that at all.

That's a report about a book that's obviously wrong.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can I ask you about Syria and the US Government's statement that it now has proved that Syria has used chemical weapons, what do you make of that?

PM: We will make this the last question.

This is a very serious matter.

We would all condemn the use of chemical weapons and as the White House has said today there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and that is the view of our own security personnel as well.

So we would all condemn the use of chemical weapons, and we would all be calling for the regime in Syria to let the UN inspection team in.

Thank you very much.

Transcript 19407