Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – 27 November 2013




Subjects: Tony Abbott’s broken promise on schools funding; Indonesia

KIERAN GILBERT: With me now from our Sydney studio the Labor frontbencher, Jason Clare. Mr Clare, first of all on the Gonski debate, has Labor left this opening for the Coalition by not allocating more than $1 billion that should have been going to Queensland, WA and those other non-signatory states before the election? By not allocating that money, have you left this opening for the Coalition to make these changes?

JASON CLARE: Kieran absolutely not. Let’s be very clear about this and let’s not let Christopher Pyne off the hook. This is a flat out, bald-faced, rolled-gold lie. Before the election they promised that they would allocate this money to Australian schools and now they’re just trying to get out of it. Remember what Christopher Pyne said before the election and I’ve got it here, it’s worth reading out, he said, “You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”. He promised that before the election, now he’s refusing to honour that in government. It is a lie, it’s a broken promise and he should be held to account for it.

KIERAN GILBERT: But they’re promising now more than $200 million more than what Labor had in its last election update. That’s the reality isn’t it?

JASON CLARE: Kieran let’s be very clear about what was promised before the election. We promised more than $9 billion to increase education funding over six years. The Liberal Party promised $2.8 billion over four years. Now they are promising even less than that, less than $2 billion. They’re walking away from it. That’s why Barry O’Farrell, a Liberal Premier in New South Wales is so angry about this. You made that point earlier on the program and it proves that they have broken a promise here. They’ve lied to the Australian people and they should be held to account for it.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr Abbott said repeatedly before the election that he’d promise the same quantum, the same funding envelope and he repeated that this morning. He denies there has been any change. He says he is honouring fully his commitment.

JASON CLARE: Well Kieran, even that is wrong. Even that is a lie because we promised more than $9 billion over six years and they only promised $2.8 billion over four years. But the key statement that was made by Christopher Pyne at the same press conference where they said they’re on a unity ticket with the Labor Party on this issue, it was this statement where he said, “You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”. So mums and dads turned up to school on election day and thought their school was going to get the same money. Now they’re not.

Christopher Pyne on Lateline last night said he didn’t think there was an equity issue with our schools. Well if he thinks that Kieran, come out to Bankstown, come out to my electorate, come out to Guildford, come out to Fairfield and I might just be able to educate the Education Minister about some of the challenges our schools have got and why this funding is so important, and why this is such a traitorous breach of faith with the Australian people.

KIERAN GILBERT: But didn’t Labor claim this as a saving, that’s the point. More than $1 billion that would have gone to these other states had they signed. You weren’t going to provide the additional funding and you claimed it as a saving before the election. Now it’s come back to bite.

JASON CLARE: Kieran this is because WA, Queensland and the Northern Territory didn’t sign up. If they sign up they get the money. That’s the point. State governments contribute money, the Federal Government contributes money and our schools are better off as a result. It’s important the Government implements the promises it made before the election. We’ve now got a situation where Tony Abbott is trying to rewrite his election policies after the election. Before the election they promised no school would be worse off. Now he’s saying it’s just the quantum that’s the same. And the point I’m making to you is the quantum is not even the same. They need to honour their promises here. There’s a reason why everyone’s calling Christopher Pyne ‘Pyneocchio’ today and that’s because he is lying to the Australian people.

KIERAN GILBERT: One final question on the Indonesian relationship quickly, the noises from the Indonesian leadership overnight, very promising, Tony Abbott has had a win on this front at least.

JASON CLARE: This is a good sign and we welcome it. It seems the Prime Minister had made a commitment similar to the one President Obama made to the German Government and as a result we’ve had a good response from Indonesia. That’s fantastic. We now need to establish the protocols and the codes of conduct that will underpin the commitment that Australia has made to Indonesia.

KIERAN GILBERT: Jason Clare appreciate your time.

JASON CLARE: Thank you Kieran.