School funding and the federal election

Make your vote count and help us secure additional resources for NT public schools

With voting now underway for the federal election, it is important to look closely at the commitments of the major parties on education.

Malcolm Turnbull confirmed with the federal budget that his Coalition government is abandoning the Gonski needs-based funding model for schools. He has committed an additional $1.2 billion over three years beginning in 2018.

Bill Shorten on the other hand pledged that a Labor government would continue to fund the Gonski model and invest an additional $4.5 billion in 2018 and 2019. According to Labor’s figures, this would mean an additional $100 million in funding for the NT school sector as a whole in those two years.

The picture under Malcolm Turnbull looks very grim. Because of changes in how funding increases are calculated, NT public schools would actually see a cut in funding after 2017.

The Federal Budget papers show that federal funding for public schools in the NT will drop from $167.3 million in 2016/17 to $138.4 million in 2018/19. Funding for private schools will continue to rise, from $151.4 million to $169.4 million.

The decrease in funding to public schools is despite the fact that the Northern Territory has one of the most socio-economically disadvantaged populations in Australia. Of the 100 most disadvantaged schools nationally, 54 are in the NT, and 44 per cent of NT students live in remote or very remote locations, compared to 2.2% nationally.

It should be a national scandal that massive additional funding from Canberra – $272 million over four years – has not found its way to Territory public schools.

The NT received this funding – over and above what was promised under the Gonski model – despite not being a signatory. The decision by the Giles Government to cut staff and redirect those funds to infrastructure means that our public schools are funded at a lower level on a per student basis than they were in 2012.

The squandering of this additional investment is not a reason to abandon the Gonski funding model. The case for additional funding is compelling, but it will require federal and Territory governments to work together to ensure that our public schools receive more resources for teaching and support staff and special programs to assist students. It will require a commitment at a Territory level to transparent and genuinely needs-based funding of schools.

Our students deserve these extra Gonski resources and need them to close the gap with the rest of Australia. That’s why we urge you to use your vote on 2 July to help secure additional funding for our public schools.

For more information on where you can cast your vote including pre-polling sites, visit

Funding for NT public schools will be cut under Malcolm Turnbull’s new model

Financial yearAmount in millions of $before (millions $)

* First year of Malcolm Turnbull’s new funding policy.

Authorised by Anita Jonsberg, Branch Secretary, Australian Education Union NT, 3/8 Totem Coconut Grove 0810