This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article. My section is below the YouTube advertisement.
Election FactCheck is checking key claims in political advertisements. Here we look at the “If Tony Abbott Wins, You Lose” ad from Labor.
Abbott will cut billions from education, including those schools who need it mostAlthough the Coalition has not indicated how it intends maintaining the funding for the government’s Better School Plan, there is no indication that money will be cut, or that these cuts are targeting disadvantaged schools.
When contacted by Election FactCheck, a spokesperson for education minister Bill Shorten said the above claim alludes to Tony Abbott’s commitment to only four years of the Better Schools funding, sometimes known as the Gonski reforms, in contrast to Labor’s six-year commitment.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations estimates that the current government will provide an additional $7.5 billion over the next six years to the five states that signed up to the Better Schools Plan. Four years of this funding only total $1.9 billion, so those last two years make a big difference.
Although the amount the Coalition has committed to is about $5.6 billion less than Labor’s plan (and $8.3 billion less if Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory jump on board after the election), at this stage, the Coalition has provided no official information that the party intends to cut education funding.
The exact numbers are up for debate. The department’s forward estimate over six years is $11.5 billion for Better Schools if all states participate. The current government advertises $9.8 billion over six years for Better Schools. This excludes millions more for students with disabilities, as well as funding for National Plan for School Improvement initiatives, such as developing the Australian Curriculum.
The Coalition’s figures are equally elusive. Abbott could be committing $1.2 billion less in the next four years with a quick sleight-of-hand, by giving Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory the Better Schools funding, without restoring National Partnership funding (which is federal money for disadvantaged schools, teacher quality and literacy and numeracy).
In short, the numbers are difficult to compare, as the Coalition has not released concrete policies around Better Schools, the National Plan School for School Improvement or funding for students with special needs. But the claim “cut billions” seems a bit of an over-reaction.
Future funding differences are hard to predict. After all, Labor’s original Gonski review called for an additional $5 billion a year. Now, even with all states, it’s a maximum of $3.7 billion per year, and a minimum of $0.5 billion (one-tenth of the Gonski review’s recommendation).
The statement that Abbott will “cut billions from education” cannot be substantiated – Squirrel Main.
Squirrel Main does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.