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Don’t blame me

Malcolm Turnbull wants to take us back to pre-war days by allowing the states to collect income tax because he is sick of “finger pointing”. He wants them to take the blame and bear the consequences for the cuts his government has made to hospital and school funding.

Today he has indicated that he wants the Federal government to only fund private schools and leave the states to fund public education.

Prior to 1972, private schools in Australia did not receive any government funding at all. In fact, Australia is one of the very few countries in the OECD that publicly funds private schools.

We also have one of the most privatised school systems in the OECD with more than 40% of Australian secondary children now attending private schools – either so-called independent or religious schools.

Overseas, most private schools rely on student tuition fees, fundraising, donations or other private “non-government” sources of revenue: very few receive government (taxpayer) funding. For example, in the United States, private schools are mostly religiously affiliated and receive no direct government funding.

“Elite” schools in the United Kingdom – referred to as “public” schools – primarily cater to the upper classes, and similarly operate without any government financial assistance.

In Chile, new laws ban profit making, tuition fees and selective admissions practices in all private schools that receive funding from the Chilean Government.

A report released by the Productivity Commission in 2015 showed that government funding increases between 2008-09 and 2012-13 massively favoured private schools over public schools.

Funding for private schools in Victoria, for example, increased by 18.5% per student, or eight times that of public schools. Across Australia, the dollar increase for private schools was nearly five times that for public schools. The average increase for private schools was A$1,181 per student compared to only A$247 for public schools.

Each private school pupil now receives, on average, a non-means-tested public subsidy of over A$8000 per year. In addition, pupils with disabilities in public schools receive up to A$12,000 of extra support while those in some private schools get more than A$30,000.

But does this lead to better academic outcomes?

An analysis of NAPLAN results reported:

“The often-presumed better results of private schools are a myth. Public schools are the equal of private schools. Public, Catholic and Independent schools with a similar socio-economic composition have very similar results.”

Likewise, a recent study showed public schools outperforming their private rivals in the HSC when comparing students from similar backgrounds.

The “extraordinary facilities” enjoyed by many private school students – made possible through government funding – exist at the expense of public schools that struggle to provide the essentials. Senior education lecturer at Monash University, David Zyngier, says there is a correlation between the decline in Australia’s PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) performance and the growth of state and federal funding for private schools.

The Gonski Review recommended a funding scheme based on need, regardless of whether students attended public, independent or Catholic schools but, as is typical of this government, they could not possibly honour an agreement made by a Labor government regardless of its obvious merit and despite their bipartisan support prior to the election and unambiguous promise of “no cuts to education”.


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  1. babyjewels10

    You’ve only got to look at our current bunch of pampered, private schoolboy politicians. I think it’d be an excellent idea to stop funding to private schools and get them to fundraise, maybe actually work, to raise their own funding, instead of these kids having it handed to them on a platter by parents and taxpayers. Look at them! Leaners, all of them.

  2. Jaquix

    Honestly, is Turnbull for real ? I would have thought both of these “proposals” of his which have come out of the blue in the last 48 hours, would be political suicide. (Excellent) I also think that to the contrary, perhaps we should in fact get rid of the Federal Government except for a few key areas like defence and tax collection. Give the states more autonomy, they are closer to the people. This would also mean getting rid of an awful lot of politicians who seem to serve little purpose except their own self-interest.

  3. flohri1754

    The current PM definitely seems to be trying to prise open cans of worms here and there in order to sow confusion up and down the country. Is all of this merely a cover to try and undo changes made during Curtin’s time as Prime Minister?

  4. Kaye Lee

    I like the Chile idea – if you want government funding then you can’t charge tuition fees and you can’t run it as a profit making venture.

  5. king1394

    We need to start asking “where has the money gone?” Have the Liberals run out of things to sell? What is being done with the ‘savings’ they make from slashing services and sacking public servants? Don’t tell me the dividends they used to receive from all those privatised companies such as Telstra are now being missed

  6. cowper133

    Interesting that the PM claims that if States had to raise their own funds they would become more efficient and spend their funds more wisely, yet he doesn’t see that this could quite easily apply to private schools as well. It makes no sense to make the claim regarding the States but ignore the fact that private schools are not held responsible for the way they spend taxpayers’ dollars. When did you last hear of a private school inviting the public school down the road to come and use its facilities, science labs, computer labs, music rooms, sporting fields, etc all being funded by the taxpayer? Since Howard the inequality in this country has increased markedly but for what benefit to the nation as a whole? Schools, hospitals and services going backwards as we race to a user pay model favoured by the Libs so that their big business mates, & themselves as shareholders often, can benefit! We currently have a Senator with 42 investment properties, all mortgaged, therefore claiming negative gearing, intent on trying to paint the ALP as the wrecking ball for home owners. Time to throw this lot out they do not care one iota about this nation only what they can get out of it. Greedy sods!!!

  7. Miriam English

    I wonder if the simplest explanation is that he simply doesn’t know what to do. Perhaps when Turnbull flounders around, making pointless and contradictory suggestions, maybe he’s just lost. He and his minders have no idea how to get this thing working again so they’re just pushing buttons and pulling levers blindly in a desperate attempt to avoid the looming impact.

    I almost feel sorry for him.

  8. Kaye Lee

    The money is being spent incarcerating asylum seekers, bombing Iraq and Syria, buying endless war toys, holding very expensive commissions and reviews, creating jobs for their mates, and paying for their political advertising.

    Review into Safe Schools Coalition $26,000
    Commission of Audit $2.5 million
    Pink Batts Royal Commission $20 million ($7 million of which was redirected from the child sex abuse RC)
    Trade Union Royal Commission $80 million
    Social media research on immigration policies $4.3 million
    Tim Wilson $900,000
    Harper review of competition laws $3 million in salaries and travel cost
    Special Envoy Jim Molan $1 million
    Advertising higher education reform $8 million

    just to mention a few…

  9. Möbius Ecko

    Asylum Seeker prevention movie $6 million.

  10. John Lord

    All so very true and very unwarranted.

  11. z

    what Turnbull does are exactly represent Liberal value and interest, “Don’t blame me” is absolutely right. not only for public education and hospital, but also for almost everything, Tony Abbott and Turnbull got no major difference in this aspect, that is DNA decide

  12. jim

    It’s very obvious that Mr turnbull is carrying out the IPAs orders, he has become their puppet, and I don’t think he will change and shouldn’t be allowed to Please do not give this LNP another chance to wreck Australia even more than Mrabbit has.

  13. paul walter

    Kaye Lee, you have outdone yourself this time. I doubt whether any journalist in the country could done better in exposing the workings of the ideological neoliberalism that infects Canberra/Sydney.

    The more you look at this crew, the sleazier it gets; the more Urquhart the thinking.

  14. Zathras

    As a taxpayer I’m forced to subsidise the “lifestyle choices” of others who want to send their children to private schools at the expense of those who do not.

    It’s the same thing for negative gearing where I have to help pay the interest on private speculative property loans or contribute to the cost of minding the children of parents who choose to return to work.

    I’m happy to pay my own way and always have, but why should I bear the financial cost of personal decisions made by others?

    I think Turnbull may have outsmarted himself this time. He’s really part of the problem and still not offering any real solution.

  15. PeterStevenson

    Perhaps these religious organised schools who are receiving government funding should also pay taxes. If they pay there fair share of taxation then they are eligible for funding.

  16. Ross in Gippsland

    The federal government not funding public education? Another brain fart surely.
    Australia is a wealthy country.
    24 million people with a 1.5 trillion dollar economy.
    Any federal government that can’t properly fund public education, heath or any other public service is so mind bogglingly incompetent it’s at the level of a Cecil.B.Demille epic.
    A country of our wealth should be sitting at the top of the world rankings in just about everything good, education, health, public transport and yes broadband.
    That Australia even works at all is not down to the efforts of our political elite, quite the reverse in fact.
    Expect this IPA brain fart will die a natural very quickly.

  17. Miriam English

    The debt that the LNP right-wingers and their fanbois keep squawking about… who is it owed to?

  18. Kaye Lee

    The average public school student could receive up to $100 less a year in state and federal government funding than a similar independent school student by 2020 without the final two years of Gonski reforms, a new report has revealed.

    The “Private school, public cost” report, due to be released on Friday by the former president of the NSW Secondary Principals Council, Chris Bonnor, and education researcher Bernie Shepherd, has found that state and federal government funding for nearly half of the nation’s independent schools could outstrip public funding for the average public school within the next five years.

    The reports authors also found that public funding for up to 75 per cent of Catholic schools across the country would outstrip funding for similar public schools by 2016.

    According to the report the median public school student will receive $11,350 in public funding by 2018, $380 less than the $11,720 for the median Catholic school student, while a similar independent student will receive $100 more than the comparable public school student by 2020.

  19. Deidre Zanker

    Great work Kaye. Hope we can be rid of this moronic govt.

  20. Terry2

    The SA Premier, Jay Weatherill seems to be the only politician who has spotted that the Prime Minister come Emperor has no clothes on ; he said this today :

    Mr Weatherill plans to put a counter-proposal at COAG, saying differential rates across the nation were “unworkable”.

    “I’m going to approach these discussions constructively,” he said on Thursday..

    “This is an issue that’s just too big to get into our political corners about.

    “We need to come out of this with an agreement. Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done though.”

    Mr Weatherill said his previously announced proposal for the states to get a fixed share of income tax instead of a collection of Federal Government grants should be closely considered.

    “That’s the simplest way of doing things, the Federal Government then collects income tax and we just get a fixed share of it,” he said.

    “That wouldn’t cost the Commonwealth a cent.”

    Sounds sensible to me !

  21. Paolo Soprani

    Breathtakingly terrible government without a clue.

  22. wam

    christ and his church are threatened and government are prepared to support extremist school practices to support the church. Apart from turnball there is no important party member who is not either a catholic school graduate or a protestant religious nut. Those jesuit trained boys of labor, nats and libs believe in the godlessness of public schools and are at one in thought with santamaria.
    I drive through the territory, outback SA and victoria two or three times a year and the number of new catholic, protestant and sundry other church schools over the last few years is amazing with every small town sporting a shiny new spire with a bell, book and candle, a new library and a bus to pick up ‘bush’ kids.
    Even a lapser like me sent his boy to uni staying at aquinas but i knew he was too free to be impressed by the trappings.
    The biggest worry for me is VET fee help but I have been alone for years so I would like to tell a tale of my daughter.
    background: at the time the richest catholic school in melb got overpaid millions by little johnnie my lass got hassled for $250 overpayment. On inquiry noone could explain and as she was shelf stacking to feed her pisspot husband and her kids she had no spare cash and was so worried that she asked for help and time to pay. This time a senior case worker asked questions and had the access to different screens, she pushed keys to find no debt but centrelink owed her $1100? Luck plays such an important part in life. A shy honest person cannot expect fair dealings?
    When I heard of the contractor paying $7 a week to fiji 457s but charging the farmer full wages i was horrified and expected the contractor to be liable but Cash took it as the workers go home to fiji or stay with the contractor?

  23. Bacchus

    I can see no justification for ANY funding of private schools by any level of government. IF this government truly believes in “small government” with no interference in commercial businesses, private schools (and private health insurance) should stand WITHOUT government funding. You want to send your kids to private (elite) schools? Don’t expect everyone else to pay for your privilege!

    Disclaimer: I was educated at a private school for all of my high school years.

  24. DC

    I really don’t think I like the elite culture that private schools often seem to nurture at all. I know there are many exceptions to the rule but they seem to pump out far too many right wing simple types or fake progressives who might pretend to value science and the environment but never acknowlede how much more environmentally detructive the LNP are while still falling for the myth that LNP are better economic managers despite half a century of evidence to the contrary. These fake progressives would have been really conflicted when Mr Wabbit was representing the party whom they vote for as a family tradition, but now they’re probably all frothing at the mouth over Turnbull’s waffle about innovation, Ingenuity and imagination

  25. iggy648

    Should be great. Work in Tasmania and pay low taxes, fly to my other house in Qld and use their hospital when I want to get in their shorter waiting list for my new knee!

  26. bossa

    The reason the LNP keep getting away with this rubbish is simply because people don’t understand the nature of our SOVEREIGN ISSUED FIAT CURRENCY and how it is used by the federal government.

    Reading through the comments here I saw plenty of references to “taxpayer dollars”, which have no real bearing on government spending at the federal level, even though the budget scam is used to present it so.

    The Fed’s always use the “we’re running out of money” scam so as to transfer assets to the elite and by pretending that taxpayers are paying for all this stuff, the taxpayer ends up agreeing with the measures. The idea that taxpayers are paying for welfare also allows the federal government to get away with cruelty toward the welfare recipient with the blessings of the poor downtrodden taxpayer.

    The way we think about the currency is what creates prejudice, resentment and cruelty (as a distraction) whilst the elite are offloading our wealth through the side door with our blessings.

    The stupidity and ignorance is truly astonishing.

  27. keerti

    “The money is being spent incarcerating asylum seekers, bombing Iraq and Syria, buying endless war toys, holding very expensive commissions and reviews, creating jobs for their mates, and paying for their political advertising.” Kaye Lee.
    When I first skimmed this sentence instead of incarcerating, I read incinerating! I did a double take before I realised my mistake, but given this countries treatment of asylum seekers it is almost accurate. The only real difference is that we treat them so badly that they often end up trying to do the job for themselves!

  28. Michael

    This is an elaborate ploy to publicly fund a perfect vertically integrated Australian political ruling class:
    – pre-school = private schooling
    – kindergarten = local government
    – high school = state parliament
    – university (preferably with a Rhodes scholarship) = federal parliament

    Encompassing a two stage process:
    A. inculcate privilege, foster elitism, always the best, sense of do no wrong and if you did, it is always someone else’s fault and if all else fails we will get our lawyer mate or political upline on to it; and
    B. schooled in how to design the rules to your and your upline’s advantage whilst nurturing your downline.

    And so it goes round and round …

    If only I figured it out earlier.

  29. Sam_w

    Hmm lets look around the world and see what model is closest to the proposed Turnbull ‘self funded’ state tax idea.

    EU member states.

    Take as long as you need to think about that:

    *EU in constant crisis.
    *Highly pro-cyclical policies.
    *Basket case member states which should not have surrendered their fiscal sovereign rights.
    *If there is a downturn state tax revenue is always lower than expected (for a plethora of reasons but basically this has held true since the GFC) therefore subjecting the hospital system to an auterity like crisis. Not to mention that if you get nasty state government they will tax the poor into insolvency to fund it.
    *Justapose to how it operates now. Every monday the RBA has a meeting with treasury over projected revenue and tops up accounts that run the health system by keystroke. Later in the week they compare ledgers and say well we either had more or less ‘tax’ ‘revenue’ than projected and provide the illusion that tax was funding health.
    *Come a crisis like a dangerous flu federal government can always purchase anything for sale in its own currency. Spend a few extra tens of millions to prevent death… no problem.

    Under the proposed system you can see Liberals dont understand this.

    If this goes though expect rolling crisis and disaster manifested either as fiscal drag on the private sector or a car crash or a health system that kills people due to austerity.

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