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The Education Union is spreading shocking misinformation; ask Christopher Pyne

Hands up all those who don't believe what Christopher Pyne says (image from asopa.typepad.com)

Hands up all those who don’t believe what Christopher Pyne says (image from asopa.typepad.com)

From Lateline November 25th, 2013

STEVE CANNANE: So what do you believe? Is there an equity problem or not?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I don’t believe there is an equity problem in Australia. I think we are very generous to our students in public and non-government schools as a wealthy country like Australia should be.

From The Pyne Online August 21st, 2013:

AEUS (sic) DISHONEST CAMPAIGN

The Australian Education Union (AEU) has this week been caught out distributing blatantly dishonest claims on school funding in South Australia.

At primary schools in South Australia, the AEU has distributed misleading campaign material entitled ‘A message from local principals and teachers’. This ‘message’ is actually from the AEU and is authorised by its Federal Secretary in Melbourne.

The AEU’s dishonest ‘message’ claims that the Coalition would deliver only one third of total funding agreed to in the South Australian school funding agreement.

This is false.

Tony Abbott and the Coalition have confirmed that they will commit the same amount of federal school funding as the Government over the forward estimates. Every single school in Australia will receive, dollar for dollar, the same federal funding over the next four years whether there is a Liberal or Labor Government after September 7.”

From Yesterday’s (December 1st 2013) The Pyne Online:

“It appears everyone in the Labor Party is willing to admit $1.2 billion was cut from school funding for Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland before the election except for the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten.

“Questioned today on Meet the Press, Shadow Minister for School Education, Kate Ellis confirmed the $1.2 billion was removed from the Budget, leaving three jurisdictions with no additional funding for 2014.

“This was an unforgivable act of sabotage on the part of Mr Shorten and Labor, but why can’t Bill Shorten admit he allowed it to happen?

“Mr Shorten also hid the fact that both Victoria and Tasmania had not signed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth and systemic Catholic schools had not sign up either, despite Labor’s claims at the time.

“The Coalition has been working hard to fix Labor’s mess, putting in more funding than Labor, with $230 million going to the states that have not signed up guaranteeing funding certainty for 2014.

“We will then be in a position to work with the states and territories over the first half of next year to bring in a new national, fair and equitable funding model for Australia, fixing the Shorten”

That’s where it stops. I haven’t cut anything out.

I presume that his next word would have been “Shambles”, and I’m tempted to ask why – apart from his tabloid-like obsession with alliteration – is the alleged shambles Shorten’s? I mean, even if you accept that Education funding was a shambles, Shorten had only been Education Minister from June. Three months is hardly enough time to create a shambles, but Chrissy Pyne himself is evidence that against that argument.

Ok, everyone out there,for anyone who’d like to make some money: if you send me $10, I will send every single one of you back $20. Of course, by every single one of you I just mean that I’ll send out twice as much money. To someone. Probably most of it to my wife, but some to my friends. But that doesn’t mean that I was trying to mislead you when I said “every single one of you” because that means the total amount of funds, right?

Put like that, the Liberals’ position is more ludicrous than the possibility of Barnaby Joyce being our Deputy Prime Minister, which thankfully is… um. Warren somebody.

The other argument that somehow $1.2 billion is “missing” because it was removed from the Budget is such a ridiculous proposition that it’s almost as blatant as the actual Liberal lie that “every single school” just means the same as total funding.

To explain this in simple terms: If you were, for example, planning a wedding, and you invite ten guests at $50 a head (I know, cheap wedding!), and it got to the day that the RSVP’s were due and only six people had replied, most people would ring the other four and ask them what their plans were. In terms of Gonski, this more or less what Labor did. Now, if two said they were coming and two said, “Your partner was rude to me last week, so stick your invitation!”, I suspect that you’d feel that it was reasonable to reduce your budget from the $500 to $400 with the idea that if they make up, you’ll put it back later. This is, more or less, what the Labor Government did.

And given the whole thing was going on “the credit card” anyway, the money isn’t missing at all!

No, it’s not really going on the credit card, but some of the Gonski money would have to be borrowed. And borrowing is not really the problem that the Liberals and Paul Sheehan make it out to be. Debt – where it increases one’s future earning capacity = isn’t a problem. Take, for example, a negative gearing or a HECS debt. And for a Federal Government, ensuring that its citizens are better educated and, therefore, capable of more skillful and higher paying jobs is better than sending some to the revenue drain of unemployment.

Some are quick to be concerned about saddling future generations with the repayment of debt, using Greece as the cautionary tale, and, yes, naturally one should take on debt prudently. However, the idea that we can just put off spending on infrastructure and education ignores the fact that we are, in fact, saddling future generations with the necessity of paying more to do the things we should have done ten years ago. While Abbott was making political points about rising electricity prices being because of the Carbon Tax, it was easy to overlook that the bulk of the rises were because of a previous lack of spending on the aging infrastructure.

In a blog a few months ago, I wrote that it was interesting that whenever it’s suggested that maybe some of the richer private schools could get less, we hear screams of “class warfare” and we’re told how some parents on low incomes struggle to send their kids to these schools, but when anyone tries to increase the money to the Government sector, the same people assure us that money doesn’t really improve educational outcomes. (I particularly liked someone who suggested that there’d been 44% increase in Education spending for no demonstrable improvement. Sounds impressive, until you consider that at three quarters of that would be a result of inflation.)

In the end, I don’t know what’s more worrying. Is it that the Liberals are lying to the Australian people when they talk about things like $1.2 billion has “gone missing” from the Education Budget? Or is it that their understanding of economics is so simplistic that they actually believe some of the things that they’re saying?

(For those of you who feel like an interesting read on the economic situation, I recommend “End This Depression Now!” by Paul Klugman.

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