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Tag Archives: education cuts

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

When Tony Abbott chose his Ministers one can only wonder at his motivation.

The Minister for Immigration morphed into Border Security, tasked with stopping those who would seek safe haven in our country.

The Minister for Communications was appointed to destroy the NBN.

The Minister for Health, an ex-policeman, after no consultation with the health industry or treasury, set about dismantling universal health care. He also ripped up the National Hospitals Agreement with no consultation with the States.

The Minister for Social Services rescinded gambling reform laws and labelled anyone who used the services of his department as bludgers and leaners.

The Minister for the Environment went on a rampage getting rid of carbon pricing, winding back safeguards and rights of appeal, delisting and endangering world heritage sites, while approving mining, development, and deforestation at an obscene rate.

The Minister for Industry put the final nail in the coffin for car manufacturing and has overseen the death of the renewable energy industry.

The Minister for Trade and Investment signed FTAs which have cost the budget billions in tariff revenue, allowed foreign companies to bring in their own workers, and put our sovereignty over health and environmental laws at risk.

The Treasurer and Finance Minister have destroyed business and consumer confidence by their constant refrain of a “debt and deficit disaster” which they have greatly added to by producing a budget that was so blatantly unfair and poorly researched and targeted that it had no chance of being passed.

But perhaps the cruellest appointment of all was putting Christopher Pyne in charge of education.

On pages 40 and 41 of the Real Solutions pamphlet the Coalition made the following promises:

  • We will continue current levels of funding for schools, indexed to deal with real increases in costs and we will ensure that money is targeted based on the social and economic status of the community.

That unity ticket only lasted as long as it took to finalise the election results after which we were subjected to the greatest load of doublespeak resulting in the Coalition cutting funding for years 5 and 6 of the Gonski reforms, reneging on the signed deals with the states, and abandoning their co-funding and accountability obligations.

  • We will ensure the continuation of the current arrangements of university funding.

Obviously this was a non-core promise.

  • We will review and restructure government research funding to make sure each dollar is spent as effectively as possible.

Apparently, the most effective way research dollars can be spent is in stopping spending them so Hockey’s bottom line looks healthier.

As reported in the Canberra Times,

“Universities are pleading with the Abbott government to abandon its threat to axe funding for major programs supporting 30,000 researchers if the Senate refuses to support the deregulation of university fees.

Peak body Universities Australia warns in its budget submission that researchers on the verge of major breakthroughs in health, climate science and manufacturing will move overseas if funding for the Future Fellowships scheme and National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) expires.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has repeatedly said that continued funding for both programs – which have been described as the “backbone of research in Australia” – is contingent on the government’s higher education reforms passing the Senate.

“If Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers block the reform package in the Senate, there will be no source of ongoing funding for these two vital research investments, meaning job losses and irreparable damage to our high-quality research capacity.”

What sort of a myopic dilettante is this man? In an arrogant display of petulance he threatens that if he doesn’t get his way he will refuse to use our money to invest in the innovation and research that will contribute to our future.

“NCRIS has led to major breakthroughs on vaccinations, 3D imaging, drugs to treat heart failure and the production of a new type of steel that produces 70 per cent fewer greenhouse gases than regular steel.

The facilities it supports include the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), based at the University of Tasmania, which conducts long-term ocean monitoring, including of temperature rises linked to climate change.

The Future Fellowships scheme supports 150 leading mid-career researchers, allowing them to continue their work in Australia.

“Without further investment by government in this scheme, many researchers, often midway through their projects and on the cusp of important breakthroughs, will move overseas where other governments are seeking to attract the world’s best,” Universities Australia says in its submission.

Universities are lobbying for $200 million a year in funding. Let’s put that in perspective.

How can we find $244 million for religious school chaplains but we can’t afford university funding?

Exploration by coal and energy companies is subsidised by Australian taxpayers by as much as $4 billion every year in the form of direct spending and tax breaks – 20 times what the universities are asking for.

According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Defence Budget Brief 2014-15, the cost of defence is over $80 million per day. Three days defence spending would fund university research for over a year.

The amount being spent on submarines and fighter jets represents about 200 years’ worth of research funding and is going to foreign economies. The two jets we have already paid for and not received would more than cover one year’s research at a cost of just under $US130 million each. We have 70 more on order and have been warned the costs will rise.

Which do you think will bring the greatest return on money invested, or the greatest productivity gains, or the greatest protection against disease and the ravages of climate change, or the greatest advancement for humanity?

While cutting the contribution to universities, the government’s intention to extend financial assistance to people studying diplomas or undertaking degrees at private colleges like the one Frances Abbott attends will cost $820 million.

According to a report by the Productivity Commission early last year, the government spends $3.8 million per private school on average – $8,546 per private school student.

Government schools teach the great majority of poor, disabled (76.6%) and Indigenous (84.7%) students, as well as those who do not speak English as a first language. However, in spite of the additional costs and burdens associated with teaching disadvantaged students, government spending per public school student increased by about 2.4 per cent a year between 2007/08 and 2011/12. In the same five-year period, government spending per private school student increased by about 3.4 per cent a year.

Interestingly, a University of Queensland study of NAPLAN results recently debunked conventional wisdom that having a child in a private school leads to better academic results. Furthermore, there is a disadvantage in sending a child to a private school if they go on to university, as more drop out in their first year.

Tutoring towards exam results does not serve a student well if they have not been encouraged to love learning and given the skills and resources to research. Creativity and innovation should be nurtured rather than stifled by directed learning.

The government are continually asking, with a sneer, well tell us what you would do.

Why don’t we give that $820 million offered to private colleges to the universities instead.

Why don’t we stop funding private schools and introduce a Private School Rebate similar to the Private Health Insurance Rebate. Allow people to claim up to a maximum of, say, $7000 per child at a private school as a tax deduction (adjust that depending what year they are in).

Fee statements would have to be produced and the size of the deduction would be on a means tested sliding scale which cuts out when combined income exceeds $180,000.

Considering our government champions personal choice and responsibility, price signals and market forces, lower taxes and user pays, this should appeal to them.

But I won’t hold my breath.

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Would you buy a used car from this man?



The budget has been handed down and the salesmen have hit the road peddling their plan. The only trouble is they don’t seem to know what they are selling.

Tony Abbott told Melbourne radio listeners an average person would only have to pay the $7 GP fee ten times and then they would be bulk billed.

In fact the government has put no limit on the number of times an ordinary worker will pay the $7 charge, however, there is a ten visit safety net just for pensioners and children.

The Australian Medical Association accused Treasurer Joe Hockey of also getting it wrong when he says the chronically ill won’t be hit by the $7 GP fee. AMA spokesman Dr Brian Morton said “He either doesn’t understand or is misusing the statistic or is lying.”

LNP backbencher Steve Ciobo also told ABC radio listeners ‘if they have a chronic disease they are exempt from making the co-payment”.

While it is true that Medicare’s chronic disease management item will be exempt from the $7 GP fee, this is only for one doctor’s visit a year where the GP plans the patient’s care for their chronic illnesses. All further visits, treatments and tests will attract the co-payment.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hockey said yesterday “his comments stand”.

When asked whether the government would be introducing new chronic disease treatment items exempt from the $7 charge she said “the legislation was still being drafted…I can’t give any detail”.

So even though the details haven’t been finalised, this woman is sure Hockey is right even though his own budget papers and the AMA say otherwise. These people don’t like criticism and truth is irrelevant. Look what happens when Andrew Robb tried to tell the truth after a previous budget reply – his staffer nearly had apoplexy trying to shut him up.

And then we have the debacle over the deregulation of uni fees.

Mr Abbott told ABC radio that only students who start studying in 2016 would face potentially higher fees when universities can charge what they like. But the budget papers clearly state that anyone who enrols after May 14 will face deregulated fees in 2016. Only those who were already studying on budget day would continue to have their fees capped – and only if they finish their studies by 2020.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne reiterated this in a separate ABC radio interview after Mr Abbott’s comments. A mother asked him whether her daughter, already at university, would have to pay more.

“If that student stays in the course that she’s doing, she’ll continue under the rules that she started. If she changes course, then quite rightly she will face the new measures.”

A spokesman for Mr Pyne said the prime minister “may not have been as clear as he could have been”.

National Union of Students president Deanna Taylor wasn’t surprised by the confusion at high levels.

“I don’t think the government really put a great deal of thought into their policy,” she told AAP, saying it appeared to be very ideologically driven. “They’re trying to make us sound like spoiled little brats who don’t know how good we’ve got it. They have a very clear agenda,” she said.

Christopher Pyne is still selling his cuts to education as an increase in funding. Alan Jones, while interviewing him on Wednesday, was astounded that despite the education minister’s “brilliant” advocacy skills the “blockheads” running state governments could not understand that the allegation of an $80bn cut was totally wrong. In fact, Jones said, “there hasn’t been a more monstrous lie perpetrated since Julia Gillard said there’d be no carbon tax”.

Pyne somehow neglected to refer Jones to page 7 of the government’s glossy budget overview which clearly states that the government is changing indexation of state grants and “removing funding guarantees for public hospitals. These measures will achieve cumulative savings of over $80bn by 20024-25.”

David Gonski made an impassioned plea last night for the government to reconsider education funding from 2017.

Even the IPA are sick of the lies saying the party which was elected promising to reduce the size of government and reduce taxes, will preside over large expenditure growth and is hiking, not axing, tax. The following is an excerpt from Chris Berg’s article about the budget.

“For all the fire and brimstone that accompanied last week’s commentary on the budget, the bottom line is simple: under the Coalition, government spending is going up, not down.

This is the long-term significance of Joe Hockey’s first budget.

A modest 1.7 per cent real reduction in expenditure next financial year will be more than offset by 0.4 per cent growth the year after, 2.1 per cent growth the year after that, and 2.6 per cent growth in the 2017-18 financial year (the end of the Treasury’s forward projections).

And tax? Well, while this year the government will collect $363 billion, by 2017-18 it plans to collect $467 billion. That’s a jump in the tax take from 23 per cent of GDP to 24.9 per cent.

The most controversial policies (like the “learn or earn” welfare changes, the increase in the pension age, and the university reforms) sound like classic austerity measures but in truth don’t alter the fiscal equation all that much. They’re social reforms being smuggled in under the cover of a budgetary crisis.

And most of the big spending cuts to health and education have been punted far into the future – beyond the next election, and many out past the Treasury’s forward estimates.

The budget is also full of policies that superficially look like aggressive cost reductions but are in fact new spending.

For instance, the $7 GP co-payment is, astonishingly, being poured into a huge new medical research fund. It will apparently be the biggest in the world.

This is a bizarre decision. The policy case for a co-payment is that introducing price signals will give patients a financial stake in their healthcare choices. But using that money to fund an entirely new government program makes the $7 charge look less like a co-payment and more like a research tax.

Likewise, the reindexation of the fuel excise isn’t to fix the budget emergency, but for new road projects. This is so Tony Abbott can live up to his self-applied “infrastructure prime minister” nickname.

Abbott said in August, 2013 that “the only party which is going to increase taxes after the election is the Labor Party”. It’s worrying the Coalition now pretends no such commitment was made.

In opposition Coalition spruikers said Abbott offered two things: the integrity Julia Gillard lacked, and the fiscal discipline Kevin Rudd lacked. After this budget, what’s left?

Abbott is no Gough Whitlam-of-the-right. He has no plan to redefine the relationship between state and citizen, despite his stirring oratory from opposition.

Nor, contrary to Joe Hockey’s assertions, has the age of entitlement come to an end. The paid parental leave scheme puts a lie to that little fantasy.

Governments think election to election. But Australia’s fiscal problem is measured in decades, not electoral cycles.”

It is hard to know whether the government just didn’t read their own document or whether they are deliberately trying to mislead us. A quick look at the Prime Minister’s page suggests the latter.

“Over six years, Labor ran up a $667 billion debt on the nation’s credit card. Every single month this debt is costing us a billion dollars just to cover the interest bill.”

His own budget papers show this to be a lie.

Total CGS on issue as at May 8 2014 $319 billion.

Net debt in 2014‑15 is estimated to be $226.4 billion.

Net interest expense in 2013-14 $10.952 billion

As an employer, I expect my staff to know what they are talking about and they are required to undergo ongoing education to keep up with current developments. If they tried to sell products they knew nothing about, or lied to customers to make a sale, they would be receiving their notice.

Tony, I am hereby providing you with notice. Should you choose to leave before your period of notice expires, the nation will be eternally grateful.

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Children can’t vote

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Children can’t vote so they have no say in how their country is governed. They must rely on we adults to protect their interests and to be their advocates.

So where do children rate in the Coalition’s priorities?

After assuring us that there was absolutely no difference between Labor and Liberal on education, the government has signed up the remaining states and territory to the Gonski reforms without the required state co-funding or performance obligations. They have reneged on the bulk of the spending which was to happen in years 5 and 6. MYEFO also contained more than $1.5 billion in education cuts, including ending the trades training centre program and slashing before and after school care assistance by $450 million.

They are throwing out the recently adopted national curriculum, the product of 26,000 submissions from concerned parties, and several years’ work by experts in the field, in favour of a rewrite that inflates the importance of capitalism in our national identity and the contribution of Conservative parties to our development, with emphasis on our Judeo-Christian heritage.

They have cut the Schoolkids Bonus which provided lower income families with a small payment when it was needed most to help pay for uniforms, books and school fees.

1240 children of defence personnel killed or badly injured in service will have their income support bonus of $211 a year cut. Among them are children aged under 16 who are homeless or are living away from home. The payments cost $260,000 a year but Senator Ronaldson said the money for the payments was not there. After all, that’s another orange liferaft we’re talking!

Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz, and Kevin Andrews have all made it clear to children who are not living with their married biological parents that their lives are not what they could have been if only their parents had stayed together, and that this is why they will probably end up promiscuous or in gaol.

Childcare workers were asked to refund a pay rise, and regulations requiring improved qualifications were scrapped. These people who have the responsibility of nurturing our children at a crucial stage in their development are to be ignored.

Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning Inc (AECSL), a NSW organisation which has been funded by the federal government for over two decades, received an email one week before Christmas explaining that all of their funding will be withdrawn.

The PCYC had $7 million of promised funds cut from youth mentoring programs in disadvantaged areas, including the ”Making Men” and ”Girl’s Choice” projects to steer young people away from a life of crime.

The Women in Prison Advocacy Network, which was promised $297,000 to start a youth mentoring program in inner-city Sydney and the La Perouse and Maroubra areas, has also had its funding cut.

The National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy had secured a total of $600,000 for programs for indigenous youth in Sydney and Dubbo but was warned the money was under review.

Wangaratta and Wodonga’s Junction Support Services, which applied for $305,559 for its youth re-engagement program, has been told by local state MP Bill Tilley that it may not get the money.

These four programs were funded from the proceeds of crime through the National Crime Prevention Agency, not government general revenue, so it appears that, rather than it being the criminals, or our children, it will be the budget bottom line which now benefits.

This year, almost 14,000 Aboriginal children were in “out-of-home-care”, more than were removed at any time during the Stolen Generations, yet the administrators of the Indigenous Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (IFVPLS) will lose $3.6 million in funding over the next three years, despite them being the “go-to” office for Indigenous women in regional towns for a myriad of problems, not just family violence, due to their compassionate, culturally sensitive practice. This required about 0.1% of the money that Tony Abbott is prepared to spend on unmanned drones.

The Australian Council of Social Service released a report in November last year stating that 575,000 children or 17.3% were living below the poverty line. Rather than heeding the growing warnings about the dangers of increasing income inequity by increasing Newstart and rolling out the NDIS, we are removing penalty rates, and perhaps abolishing the minimum wage and charging a $6 co-payment to see the doctor. At the same time we are offering amnesties to offshore tax cheats, cuts in company tax for big business, many billions in subsidies to banks, mining companies and private health insurers, and a whole special tax zone so our very richest citizens can pay no tax at all. Nice call Gina.

In the area of health, Westmead Children’s Hospital will lose $100 million in funding for the first stage of a comprehensive redevelopment, while the Children’s Medical Research Institute will lose $10 million and the Millennium Institute will lose $12 million.

There are over 1000 children held in immigration detention facilities. As the tragic events on Manus Island unfolded, there was barely a murmur about what was occurring in the second offshore imprisonment site of Nauru, with 10 unaccompanied children forcibly sent there from Christmas Island; more have now followed.

In a few years’ time our children will be faced with a huge bill to replace an inadequate national broadband network that the government wasted tens of billions of dollars building.

They will be faced with the challenge of providing public transport in our cities because all the money was wasted on building roads when our cities have no space for the cars and the pollution becomes intolerable.

And that is the greatest crime that this government is committing. Our children will be able to rectify bad policies and decisions. Society will eventually realise that an equitable distribution of resources is essential in generally lifting the standard of living. But only if they still have a viable planet to live on.

This government’s headlong dash into the rape and pillage of our environment with no thought to the cost is unconscionable. They claim to accept the science, all of which points to catastrophic climate change unless we take urgent action. They then cap funding to achieve this at $3.2 billion over the next four years during which time they will hand out about $9.4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies

They are prepared to spend $3.2 billion to save the planet, but for the same period they have allocated $22 billion for paid parental leave, welfare for the rich which we can only guess at the actual future cost for something that will become an entrenched entitlement.

They remove carbon pricing and approve huge new coal mines. Environmental safeguards have been abolished and the message is let’s get fracking.

They cap the funding for Direct Action but Operation Sovereign Borders has unlimited funding – “whatever it takes”.

Our children and their future are unimportant to a party who is driven by short term corporate greed. But don’t dismiss them lightly Mr Abbott. Social media has bridged the generation gap and is correcting the misinformation and building solidarity. I saw many children at the March in March. They grow up. In three or four years’ time those kids from Newtown High will be voting. In the mean time, we oldies will keep spreading the truth and holding this government to account.

I look forward to the growing voice of the youth of this country.

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