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Transcript 40926

Interview with Richard Glover, ABC Sydney

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 02/05/2017

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 40926

Subject(s): Schools Funding; Western Sydney Airport

RICHARD GLOVER:

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is on the line, good afternoon.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good afternoon.

RICHARD GLOVER:

You do give a Gonski!

PRIME MINISTER:

I do indeed, Gonski 2.0. This is a big question Richard, you know. We’ve committed, as you know, a substantial increase in funding to schools. We are fulfilling David Gonski’s vision, which was that all Australian school children should receive funding based on their need and it should be consistent across the country. That’s what we’re doing. We’re going to get there by 2027. It will be quite consistent right across the country based on need in terms of Commonwealth funding. It’s a very substantial increase.

So the next question – and this is what David is going to help us answer, this is the big question that parents are asking. Right, we’ve got a lot of money going into schools; why are we not getting better outcomes? Why are we not getting better results? Why are our children not performing as well as they used to, compared to other countries?

RICHARD GLOVER:

Okay are you going into this with a fixed view that there’s something that teachers or the system is doing wrong by our children?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I have a very open mind, I don’t pretend to be an educational expert by any means. My life was changed by great teachers. I think all of us have had, know the difference between great teachers and good teachers and not so good teachers. But what we need to do is to support great teaching.

I mean Lucy and my daughter Daisy is a teacher. One of the most moving moments in my life was when I was at an airport and a lady came up to me and said: “You’re Daisy’s dad?” I said: “Yes,”. She said “Well you know, your daughter teaches my daughter and she wasn’t very interested in her studies and you know, we were worried about her. Daisy has inspired her, so a light has been switched on and she’s changed.” I was, unusually for me Richard, I was lost for words. You can imagine.

RICHARD GLOVER:

It’s a nice moment.

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s what teachers do.

What we need to do is identify how this additional money that we’re committing, this additional $18.6 billion of Federal money we’re putting in over the next decade, how we can use that. And of course, additional money that states will deploy, how we can use that. That can be used to support better educational outcomes.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Okay, there is a view though that the light hasn’t been turned on for everybody, that we’ve been making mistakes with our priorities. One common view for instance is that we’ve been putting too less emphasis on teacher education and far too much emphasis on small class sizes. Is this the thing, the sort of thing that you’ll be asking David Gonski to look at?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well these are the issues that David will certainly be, and his panel, will certainly be looking at. It’s designed to examine all of those issues and I know these have all been controversial issues. The debate about, there is a widespread contention you know – you talk about this a lot on your show I imagine Richard, and your listeners would talk about it – that we’ve pursued the class sizes agenda at the expense of teacher quality. And in fact, we’d be better off investing more in ensuring that teachers were better qualified, had better training and support to do a better job.

But again I don’t want, can I just be clear about this -

RICHARD GLOVER:

Alright.

PRIME MINISTER:

This is why we have David to look at this, because he flagged this in the first report back in 2011. I mean David’s big idea in 2011 was that there should be a schools resourcing standard, which is an amount of money per student. In the non-government sector obviously, adjusted for, you know, the school community’s ability to pay, and that should be consistent across the country.

Now under all of the deals that Bill Shorten and Julia Gillard did, 27 of them, it would have taken 150 years to get to a consistent standard. So what Labor had was not Gonski. You know, they talked about ‘giving a Gonski’. What they were providing was not a Gonski. What we’re doing, is within the decade, we will realise that objective of consistency and we will provide, as the Federal Government, 20 per cent of the school resources standard for government schools and 80 per cent for non-government schools.

RICHARD GLOVER:

It is more money, but it’s not as much money as Labor. Here’s Tanya Plibersek.

TANYA PLIBERSEK [Recording]:

What we get today is a smoke and mirrors, pea and thimble effort to hide the fact that instead of cutting $30 billion from schools over the decade, this Government will cut $22 billion from schools over the decade.

RICHARD GLOVER:

I mean this is the real story isn’t it? Tony Abbott in 2014 cuts all this money for education, you’re giving a bit of it back and claiming it as a victory?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we are committing an additional $18.6 billion over the next decade.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Okay, less than Labor would commit under its full Gonski funding.

PRIME MINISTER:

But Labor never had – Richard, let’s be clear. You know, talk about smoke and mirrors. Labor never had the money. It was never funded. It was a mish-mash of inconsistent deals. States that spent more money were penalised. It was all over the place, and as Simon Birmingham has been detailing in the course of the day, a student, similarly situated in one state, would receive dramatically less Commonwealth funding than that student in another state. Let alone in another school system. So consistency and equity is the key. This is what we’re delivering. We’re delivering substantial additional funding. I mean this is record funding. In terms of Commonwealth funding for schools, over the decade, it will increase by 75 per cent.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Can I ask you about – because time is short of course – can I ask you about the 24 private schools? They will, it is said by Simon Birmingham today, actually lose money under this model, which is something that under Julia Gillard’s model, no one would lose out. It’s a great headline 24 private schools to lose money. But it’s not actually that many schools, is it? Is that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, out of over 9,000 schools no of course not.

RICHARD GLOVER:

No, but is that your way of making this, making an ideological point that you’re springing the rich for a bit, and really in way that’s a bit meaningless?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. Can I tell you, I’m not interested in ideology. This is not about ideology. This is not about politics. This is about our children and our grandchildren. And it’s about making sure that we fulfil that commitment to have a consistent level of funding from the Commonwealth across the country based on need.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Okay but what’s the point of sticking 24 private schools, when that number, as you say yourself, is such a small percentage of the 9,000.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is remarkable that that’s the point that you want to focus on, when there are over 9,000 schools that will be receiving more funding. But the fact is, because of all of the deals that Labor did, there were anomalies and some schools were receiving more money. Not that many, but a few, were receiving more money than under the equitable approach, they would be entitled to. Many others were receiving less, many others a lot less.

RICHARD GLOVER:

I suppose I’m focusing on that because I imagine if it was really a genuine needs-based system, as David Gonski always said, that more than 24 would probably have to tighten up their funding a bit.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it is I can assure you, it is. This is the consistency of it, this is the formula. Of course the fact is it is a, you know, the way it works as you know, is you have the school resourcing standard, which is an amount of money per high school student and primary student. That’s fully funded for government schools and then for non-government schools it is adjusted by reference to the ability of that school’s community to contribute. So that is why you know a school in a very affluent area will get a lesser amount. But that’s part of the system now. It’s been part of the system for a very long time. What we’re doing is ensuring that it’s consistent, that its national and also Richard, that it’s understandable.

I mean part of the problem with the Labor model is that there were so many inconsistencies, so many deals. It was not what David Gonski recommended. David’s vision, as he confirmed today, as he confirmed today, was for a national, consistent level of funding which is needs-based. That’s what my Government is delivering.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Okay. There will be people who are cynical about this. The whole town, if you’re in Sydney, is full of posters and stickers saying: “I do give a Gonski”, attacking your Government over it and all that. He’s an old friend of yours, you’ve got him on board. That is a political masterstroke isn’t it? It basically undermines a slogan that was going to be used against you all the way up to the election.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’m proud to be supporting David Gonski’s vision of a consistent, needs-based approach to funding for schools. I share his passion for the transformative power of education and I look forward to the guidance he will give us as to how we can make sure that the massive increase in spending that we’re seeing in schools, is going to result in better outcomes for our children and grandchildren.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Okay but there will be an amusing moment for you, will it not, when David Gonski suggests some policies which are not in line with the Teacher’s Union, Teachers Federation polices and you find that they don’t give a Gonski as much as they thought?

PRIME MINISTER:

You’ve lost me there with all the Gonski’s. But I can tell you, he has got a big heart and a big brain and David understands that you’ve got to have consistent needs-based funding. We’re supporting that. That’s exactly what we’re doing. But what we also need to do is make sure that our kids and our grandkids get the maximum educational benefit from these big dollars that we’re spending on schools.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Okay. A Daisy for every child.

PRIME MINISTER:

(Laughter)

RICHARD GLOVER:

Just let me ask you finally, the announcement today that Sydney Airport Corp don’t want to take up their offer, their right to develop the Badgerys Creek Airport. The Government are going to do it instead. There will be lots of people thinking: “Well Sydney Airport Corporation, they’re not dopes, they must understand that in the end this is going to be not a commercial proposition. Why are the taxpayers funding what starts to look like bad debt?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, this is a very important project. It’s a very, very important project. We will build it. We’ve obviously done a lot of work on it and will have a lot more to say about it in the Budget.

RICHARD GLOVER:

Prime Minister thank you very much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks so much Richard.

[ENDS]

Transcript 40926