Coalition Response to Our Election Issues

24 June 2016 | Author: Stephen O’Doherty

The Coalition has assured CSA of its commitment to address inequities in the current school funding distribution, with a model to emerge from consultations with the states by “early 2017”.

In its response to CSA’s pre-election issues letter, the Turnbull Government has underlined that its funding will be based on “the principles of being affordable, needs based, stable, simple, fair and transparent”.

The Coalition’s decision not to continue the Gonski transition beyond 2017 leaves some states, notably South Australia, at a significant disadvantage. “A re-elected Coalition Government will seek to achieve equitable treatment across jurisdictions and sectors as quickly as possible and certainly within a two year period post 2017,” the letter says.

How this can be achieved within the overall objective of “being affordable” is a very interesting question, and means tough talking with some states about their funding commitments.

On the issue of disability funding, the Coalition appears to have stepped back from previous language about additional funding following the child. Future funding will be “informed by the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) and will be targeted to schools where it is most needed”. This type of model traditionally has worked against the interests of students with disability in independent schools.

The Coalition remains strong in the human rights and religious freedom arena. “The Coalition neither proposes nor supports any changes to existing arrangements and continues to strongly support the rights of families to choose schools that align with their needs and values, as well as the right of those schools to operate and undertake employment decisions consistent with those values,” the response says.

The Coalition points out that “Labor’s platform commits a future Labor Government to enacting legislation prohibiting discrimination, and that such discrimination ‘can never be justified by someone’s faith or belief’”. This is a very reasonable point. Put simply, Labor’s position is not clear cut on religious freedom issues.

In general the Coalition plays a very straight bat. It certainly can’t be accused of making rash promises. Its matter of fact response is very consistent with the austere language of the past few years.

The Government, should it win the election, will not face any criticism for overpromising. This is somewhat refreshing, albeit that it means we will have work to do in key policy areas such as funding for students with disabilities.

Below are the original CSA letter to the Coalition, and their response received today.