Federation Chamber - CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS - Chifley Electorate: Education

I rise to speak up for parents, teachers and students in the electorate of Chifley who are rightly outraged at the news that the NSW Coalition Government has cut funding to schools by nearly $2 billion over 4 years.

At a time when we’re trying to get governments and schools and P&C’s working together to bring to life the promising reforms outlined by the Gonski Review, the NSW Coalition Government’s cuts are a crushing blow.

No-one who voted for local State Coalition MPs Bart Bassett and Kevin Conolly were ever told their child’s public, Catholic or independent school would cop a cut or freeze to their school’s funding.

Not one of the 67 schools in the Chifley electorate, were given advance notice about this rip off.

Not before the election, certainly not straight after.

It’s caused alarm locally with Holy Family Primary School Principal, Sister Brenda Kennedy saying:

We have over 200 families at the school, the majority of them struggling to pay any fees. This places a burden on our system as a whole because we carry these families financially.

This is just a forerunner to what we can expect if the Coalition was elected federally. Here’s the proof.

We’ve had their education spokesperson argue that bigger class sizes aren’t a big deal.

They won’t support the Gonski reforms.

They’ve also floated the notion of capping university places and lifting HECS fees – plus who knows what else given the $70 billion spending cuts.

So at the state level you get funding cuts, increased TAFE fees and job losses.

Federally, the Coalition promise larger class sizes, no support for Gonski, fewer uni places and higher fees.

I want to read this quote from the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Pittwater MP, Rob Stokes was quoted as saying: “I can’t see why building the North-West Rail Link and keeping the [electricity] ‘poles and wires’ is more important than education.”

I agree. Many Western Sydney residents want better transport options but school kids shouldn’t foot the bill for it.

I’ve read somewhere that former NSW Premier Nick Griener has reportedly said the North-West Rail Link could be the project that eats the NSW Government.

Now it looks like it’s the project eating into school funding.

And don’t forget the NSW Government dragged the chain supporting the NDIS – after hiking up housing rents for 5,000 pensioners in Chifley.

What’s next? What vital public projects and spending will be cut to meet the needs of the North-West Rail Link?

It’s clear the NSW Government will refuse to change its mind on this awful school funding cut – but parents, teachers and students should rightly demand to know what the Federal Coalition plans are for their schools.

I couldn’t agree more with Sister Brenda’s concluding comments to me:

Education should be the last place for funding cuts as those most affected by this are the most important people in our society, our children.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley

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