Television Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News – Wednesday 31 January 2024


SUBJECTS: Fully and fairly funding all Western Australian public schools; Building a better and fairer education system; Bigger tax cuts for more Australians

KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s go live to Perth. The Education Minister Jason Clare joins me now. We’ll get your reaction to Sarah Henderson in a moment. First though, in WA, you and the Premier have just announced that WA is the first state in the country to fully fund public schools. This is by 2026. Explain to our viewers what that means – fully funding of public schools.

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: G’day, mate. This is a landmark day for public education, as you say, we’ve announced an agreement with WA today to make sure that every public school in WA is fully funded. The most disadvantaged schools will be fully funded from next year and every child attending a public school will be attending a public school in WA that’s fully funded in 2026. And when I say full funding, I mean that Gonski level that David Gonski set all those years ago. Private schools are fully funded today. They’re either at that level or above it or on track to be there over the next few years. But no public school is right across the country except in the ACT. Everywhere else across the country that funding tops out at 95 per cent of what David Gonski said it should be. This is about closing that 5 per cent gap where the Commonwealth chips in and we’re throwing in another $777 million over the next five years. And the State Government of WA chips in as well, putting in a similar amount to make sure that we fully fund schools and that we tie that funding to the things that we know work that are going to help children who fall behind when they’re little in primary schools like this to catch up with things like catch up tutoring and then keep up and finish high school and go on to TAFE or uni.

GILBERT: Well, we saw how much that tutoring parallel to the official schooling was important during the Covid period. Sarah Henderson said there hasn’t been enough achieved here in terms of cooperation with the states. Why is WA the only state to have reached at least the goal of this benchmark in funding?

CLARE: There’s great cooperation between the Commonwealth Government and the States. We’ve developed a plan in the first couple of months that I was Minister to help to address the teacher shortage crisis in this country. We’ve also developed a plan to make sure that we train our teachers better at university so that they finish the course and come out better prepared. And on this agreement here, we’re working together here to make sure that we fully fund schools not just in WA, but right across the country.

Kieran, this is just the start. I want to make sure that we fully and properly fund our schools right across the country. But to do that, the Commonwealth needs to chip in. States need to chip in. We need to work together to get the job done. I’m confident that we can do that.

GILBERT: And with the $777 million over the next five years, that’s WA, as we say, that’s what you’re marking today. Who is the next cab off the rank in terms of hitting those Gonski benchmarks?

CLARE: We want to roll this out right across the country, Kieran. I’m not going to negotiate on the telly. It’s not the right thing to do. We do this working together as a team and I’m confident that we can do that.

We’ve got to make sure that not only do we fix this funding gap, but we fix the education gap as well, that we use this money on the things that are going to help children who fall behind. Kieran, at the moment, if you’re a kid from a poor family, if you’re a kid who’s growing up in regional Australia, then there’s a greater chance you’re going to fall behind at school. One in three kids from poor families and from the bush are behind when they’re little, when they’re eight years old, when they’re doing that year three NAPLAN test, and only 20 per cent of those kids have caught up by the time they’re in year nine, by the time they’re 15.

Now, that helps to explain why over the last seven years, we’re starting to see a drop in the number of kids finishing high school, not everywhere, but particularly at public schools and particularly amongst kids from poor families. And this is happening at a time where it’s more important to finish school than it was in your or my day when we grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. You’ve got to finish school now and then go on to TAFE or uni, because nine out of ten jobs that are being created today require you to finish school, then go to TAFE or uni. That’s why this money is important, not just a dollar figure, but what we use it for, what we tie it to, to make sure that we use it in a way that helps kids who fall behind, help with their health and well-being, and give teachers the sort of resources and support that they need as well. To build a better and fairer education system right across the country. That’s what this is about.

GILBERT: We’ve only got a minute left. I do want to get your thoughts finally on this CPI number, the inflation number down, lowest in two years. I know there’s a lot of talk about tax right now. This is the main game really, in terms of cost of living. If those rate cuts can eventuate by the end of this year, early into the next year, that’s a game changer for many people in Perth in your seat right around the country.

CLARE: I won’t pre-empt what the Reserve Bank does this year, that’s not appropriate. But inflation is going down. That’s a good thing. Wages are going up. Fastest growth in wages in 15 years. That’s a good thing. Unemployment is low. That’s terrific as well. But we know that there are a lot of Aussies that are still doing it tough. Some that are doing it really tough. That’s why those tax cuts are important.

Every taxpayer will get a tax cut and 11 million Aussies will get a bigger tax cut. I think it tells you a lot about the Liberal Party, a lot about Peter Dutton, that they don’t know whether they support 11 million Aussies getting a bigger tax cut or not.

Peter Dutton’s quick to bag Woolies, he’s quick to attack journalists up in the press gallery, he’s pretty slow to work out whether 11 million Aussies deserve a bigger tax cut. Tells you everything you need to know about Peter Dutton.

GILBERT: Jason Clare live from Perth, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

CLARE: Good on you, mate.