NT education suffers due to Scott Morrison’s cuts

NT Budget: public school students suffer under Morrison Govt’s funding cuts

Tuesday 7 May, 2019

Public school children in the Northern Territory have been badly affected in today’s Budget by funding cuts to public schools imposed by the Morrison Government.

In just one example, the NT Remote Aboriginal Investment – children and schooling (NTRAI) initiative, which is Commonwealth-funded, has nearly been cut in half with a massive 48.7% reduction from $56 million to just $28.7 million. NTRAI funds vital remote programs such as Families as First Teachers that complement core schooling activities.

Australian Education Union NT President Jarvis Ryan said that today’s Budget showed that the Morrison Government’s legislated cuts to public school funding in the Northern Territory over the next decade were starting to bite.

“This Budget fails to increase real funding to the neediest school sector in Australia – the NT public school system,” Mr Ryan said. “In fact, once cost growth for education is factored in, it could possibly mean a cut in real terms.”

“While the NT Government has managed to provide a modest lift in funding to public schools, this is vastly outweighed by the cuts to Commonwealth funding imposed under Scott Morrison’s school funding deal.”

“Direct Morrison Government funding of NT public schools will grow by just $3.3 million in the coming year. This is anything but fair. A Shorten-led Labor government has promised to give NT public schools four times that amount,” Mr Ryan said.

“Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has once again demonstrated his lack of leadership on the issue of public school funding. He has failed the fairness test by allowing expenditure growth in private schools to continue to outpace spending on public schools, despite far greater levels of need in the public system.”

“This Budget highlights the major fiscal problems facing the NT Government. It shows that, in education as in other areas, we need to see a genuine partnership between the NT and the Commonwealth to lift resourcing and close achievement gaps, especially for Aboriginal students,” Mr Ryan said.

Key features of the NT Education Budget

  • Overall expenditure on public education will grow by 2.3% (by $17.9m to a total of $786m). Meanwhile, expenditure on private (non-government) education will grow by 3.4% – by $8m to a total of $243m.
  • Core resourcing costs for public schools are budgeted to grow by just 1.7%, by $8.5m to a total of $518m. Meanwhile, projected inflation (CPI) growth is 1.6%, meaning there is no real growth in core expenditure. Once cost growth for education is factored in, it could possibly mean a cut in real terms.
  • Due to the NT Government’s Budget Repair strategy, the NT Department of Education has announced $5.7m in savings. This includes $500,000 earmarked for cuts to Katherine teacher housing subsidies.

Funding from the Commonwealth has been dramatically reduced in a number of areas:

  • Commonwealth direct funding of public schools will grow by just 1.7% (by $3.3m to $196m), whereas funding of private schools will increase by 4.3% (by $7.6m to a total of $184m).
  • Commonwealth grants have been cut by 29.8%.
  • NT Remote Aboriginal Investment – children and schooling (NTRAI) cut in half with a massive 48.7% reduction – from $56m to $28.7m.

Mr Ryan said that at the heart of the problem with the NT education budget was that one tier of government was increasing funding while another was reducing its contribution.

“The AEU NT acknowledges that the NT Government is in a difficult fiscal position. We recognise that, in the area of education at least, the Gunner Government has shown foresight in maintaining investment in our children and, where possible, increasing funding to vital programs such as Families as First Teachers.

“However, at best this Budget will mean NT students tread water – that is because the Federal Coalition has slashed support for public schools.”

Mr Ryan said that today’s Budget showed the continuation of the Federal Coalition’s six years of attacks on public education.

“Scott Morrison has proven once and for all that his idea of a fair go means a fair go for some, not a fair go for all. He has cut billions of dollars from public schools and given billions extra to private schools,” Mr Ryan said.

“Morrison’s school funding model has left 100 per cent of public schools in the Northern Territory under the Schooling Resource Standard and without the additional funding they need for smaller class sizes, more one-on-one teaching and more support for students with disability.”

“Public school children in the NT deserve better.”