Education minister Simon Birmingham. Photo: Q&A Calling for more money: SA premier Jay Weatherill. Photo: Q&A
The panel on Monday night also included Amanda Vanstone and Penny Wong. Photo: Q&A
Education minister Simon Birmingham has conceded some private schools are “over-funded” amid fiery negotiations with states on a new four-year model for school funding.
However, he says he won’t produce a “hit-list” to name them.
On the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night, Mr Birmingham was grilled by host Tony Jones after an audience question about allocating “generous” amounts of money to wealthy schools.
An analysis obtained by Fairfax Media last week revealed NSW would lose $100 million if funding plans by the Federal government go ahead, with the bulk of this money coming from public schools.
NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli has predicted the states will be “fighting regularly” over the issue.
Under questioning, Mr Birmingham said he was “very cautious” about saying no school will lose money under the government’s plans.
He agreed some schools are over-funded, and said it is “possible” some of them could be worse off, sparking a rapid exchange with Jones.
“Can I just confirm this – the ones that are over-funded, you must have a list of them,” Jones asked.
“If you want me to create a hit list or something tonight, Tony, that’s not about to happen,” Mr Birmingham responded with a laugh.
Jones continued to probe, asking how many schools were over-funded.
“Well that depends actually on how you measure what a funding benchmark is,” Birmingham said. “I mean, we’re not talking vast numbers, but there are some.”
“Are the wealthy private schools over-funded?” Jones asked.
“There are some that fit that bill, yes, there are,” Birmingham said.
“So some private schools could expect under your governorship to lose money?” Jones asked.
Birmingham said that situation would depend on whether the Federal government could reach accord with states and territories.
South Australian premier Jay Weatherill, who was also on the panel, made clear that any such agreement will not be easily obtained.
He said $335 million has been “ripped out” of his state’s education budget over two years, and called for Malcolm Turnbull to allocate more money.
“At the last federal election, there was a commitment in relation to Gonski funding,” Mr Weatherill said. “Remember, a unity ticket with Labor in relation to school funding. Now $80 billion was cut from health and education.
“What the Prime Minister can do is to put back in the funding that was cut.”
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