Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (15:46): I might just point out to the previous speaker, the member for Scullin, who speaks of this policy having no friends, that I can tell him how much negative contact I have had into my office since this policy was announced-none. Zero. I always have a fair idea when government gets a policy wrong, because my phone runs hot, mate. It runs hot. But not on this one. I have been asked about it once at an opening of an Apex shed on Friday night, where the gentleman asking the question was not across all the details. I said: ‘Don’t worry, mate. We’ve got your back covered.’ And we have. Senator Birmingham is completely on top of the job on this game.
Let me tell you, this is a sad place the Labor Party have brought themselves to. Nothing gets stuck in their craw more than watching a coalition government do the things they wish they could have done themselves. There was a time when they wanted to lower taxes to big businesses, but, no, now they have to go out and say, ‘That’s a terrible idea.’ There was a time when they believed in an independent Fair Work Australia. They said: ‘Keep your hands off it, you filthy, stinking Liberals. Don’t you touch Fair Work Australia. Don’t you tell them what to do. Oh no, now we need to interfere with Fair Work Australia.’ There was a time when they supported mining jobs, but now they cannot bring themselves to come up and say, ‘We support Adani.’ They cannot bring themselves to come up and say, ‘We support the steelworkers,’ in my electorate in Whyalla who are going to blow the steel for the Carmichael mine in Queensland. And they could not bring themselves to support the naval shipbuilding industry. The whole time they were in government, they could not even order one ship.
Now they cannot bring themselves to support the true Gonski. They cannot bring themselves to support needs-based funding. We remember Julia Gillard going around and trying to cobble her response together-27 different funding agreements. Talk about a national response! It was a national emergency at that time for the Labor Party, and they had to do something. What we have done now, what the minister has done, has brought a true needs-based funding process to Australia. He has not backloaded it. He has not loaded up the front years or loaded up the back years. We are going to have a gentle 10-year progression, so everybody knows exactly where they are heading in the next 12 months. Incidentally, it has been pointed out that we are only guaranteeing the 3.6 per cent increase for the first four years. Well, that is correct, because that is as far as forward estimates go-you remember that story. But then we go to a model which adjusts itself to the increases of expenses of the education sector. It is all very well to say ‘Wages mightn’t grow that fast.’ They might grow faster. It makes sense.
Mr RAMSEY: There is a fair chance, mate. If you are sitting around long enough-I suspect you may not-you might find out that it does. Let me tell you that the correct way to deal with this is to have a mechanism that responds to the conditions of the day. I have had a run through and I have had a look at the schools in Grey-on My Schools-and guess what? Everyone is going to be better off. Every single one of them. No wonder my phone hasn’t been running hot. Over this period the government is making a very important statement that we are up to the game for the long haul. We are going to push Commonwealth funding for state government schools, and remember these are state government schools, to 20 per cent-up from 17.6 per cent.
I will point out that in the state of South Australia, at least, 50 per cent of the income of the state government comes from the federal government anyhow, but we are pushing up our contribution to 20 per cent. For the non-government school sector we are going to 80 per cent. These are nice, simple figures. You can call it the 80-20 rule or the 20-80 rule if you like, but it is the rule which will guide government over the next decade. Schools know what they are dealing with. They know that they are going to receive funding on their needs-on the SRS model that the Labor government of the time put in place.