The multi-billion dollar transfer of taxpayer money from Catholic schools to public schools under the government’s “Gonski 2.0” funding model has been exposed in secret data given to the Senate crossbench ahead of a crucial vote this week.
The Department of Education data shows the country’s public schools would receive a $4 billion windfall over the next decade if the Turnbull government’s school funding changes pass while Catholic schools would be $4.6 billion worse off than under the current legislation.
The leaked modelling examines how public, Catholic and private schools around the country would be affected by the Senate’s decision to block or support the new funding model.
It shows Catholic schools would lose $705 million over the next four years if the new model is passed while public schools would gain $693 million.
The private school sector would see little change, picking up just an extra $12 million over the next four years.
The data will focus the mind of the Senate crossbench on the likely hit to public schools if they reject the government’s changes, and the consequent bonanza for Catholic schools.
The modelling obtained by Fairfax Media is based on a conservative “best case” scenario of how Education Minister Simon Birmingham would respond if its legislation is blocked.
It shows funding for NSW public schools would increase by $72 million over the next four years and $225 million over the decade compared to current legislation.
By contrast, NSW Catholic schools would lose $1.16 billion if the changes are passed and the NSW private school sector would be $138 million worse off.
Victorian public schools would be $202 million better off over the next four years and $1.24 billion better off over the next decade – an increase exceeded only by Western Australia.
Victorian Catholic schools would be hardest hit by the government’s changes and would be $1.6 billion worse off than under current arrangements.
The private school sector would see little change overall in Victoria, receiving $30 million less than under current legislation.
The data helps explain the ferocious response from the Catholic school sector to the government’s new funding model even though its funding is increasing overall.
National Catholic Education Commission executive director Christian Zahra said: “Minister Birmingham and his Coalition colleagues need to think long and hard about if they want this attack on Catholic education to be their legacy.”
Senator Birmingham said federal school funding would increase by almost $19 billion over a decade under the government’s plan, with spending on Catholic schools rising by 3.5 per cent annually.
According to the modelling, the government’s changes would save the budget $771 million over a decade because of the hit to Catholic schools.
Fairfax Media revealed on Saturday the Turnbull government was prepared to strike a deal with the Greens that would meet all the party’s major negotiating demands.
These include extra funding, a fast-tracked spending timeline and a new independent schools resourcing body as recommended by the Gonski review.
The benefit to public schools under the new model would be even more dramatic than the modelling shows if the government agrees to a further funding boost.
Greens education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said: “The Greens only want to do what is best for public schools.”Ultimately, any decision on whether we can support the government’s proposal, or an improved version of it, rests with the party room.”
Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the Greens should not do a “dodgy” deal with the Coalition.
“The only proposal that’s on the table at the moment is a $22 billion cut to schools, with the hardest cuts hitting public schools,” she said.
The modelling compares the government’s new model to a scenario where it is blocked by the Senate.
The scenario assumes the government maintains the overall funding announced in this year’s budget, complies with the current legislation and gives so-called “non-participating” states such as Victoria 4.3 per cent annual funding growth.
The Turnbull government has repeatedly said it will not fund the final two years of the big-spending deals Labor struck with state governments in 2013.
Education Department officials recently confirmed the deals are not legally binding and can be terminated at any time.
Originally published on smh.com.au as ‘Revealed: How Gonski 2.0 would rip money from Catholic schools to boost public school spending‘.
Source : WA Today