Labor has promised to give schools an extra $22 billion should it win government but won’t detail how the money will be divvied up until it’s talked to everyone in the sector.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used his budget reply speech to confirm the party would find the $22 billion it says the government has stripped out of education funding over the next decade.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said on Sunday there were still more announcements to come.
“We’ve announced the funding envelope over the decade,” he told Sky News.
“In terms of sectoral approach and the funding profile, we have consultations to do with the states, with the Catholic education office, with educators, P&Cs, more broadly.”
However, the government looks likely to be able to enshrine its new funding approach in legislation after the Greens indicated they intend to seize the opportunity to create a fairer system.
The commonwealth will increase its schools funding from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $30.6 billion in 2027.
But that boost is about $22 billion less than what Labor planned to give schools over the same decade when it was in power – although it’s more than the coalition has indicated in any of its budgets since 2014.
Labor’s pledge to restore the funding is over the same timeframe as the government’s plan, up to 2027.
But with the next federal election not due until early 2019, it’s unclear what would happen to the $3.6 billion difference between the government’s plan and Labor’s in 2018 and 2019.
Greens education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said it was time for Labor to get real about the state of funding.
“Gonski years five and six (in 2018 and 2019) are already gone. It was wrong for the Liberals to cut them but the Senate can’t bring them back, they’re not in legislation,” she told Fairfax Media.
She indicated the Greens want more money to go to the neediest schools faster.
The legislation before parliament outlines the government’s intention for the commonwealth to pay 20 per cent of a base per-student funding level, plus loadings for disadvantage, to public schools and 80 per cent to private schools.
It says it’s up to the states to make up the rest, and the legislation will force state governments to sign on to a new agreement on schooling.