Liberal governments neglect students with highest needs

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services has shown per student funding to private schools continues to grow at a higher rate than for public school students with higher levels of need.

“Tasmanian public schools and colleges are getting great results, but Liberal state and federal governments continue to shovel money at private schools, ignoring the needs of students,” says AEU Tasmania State Manager Brian Wightman.

“Governments can’t keep relying on unsustainable workloads of public educators going over and above; what students need is more teachers, more professional support staff and more individual learning time.”

“If there’s improvements in retention and results at our Tasmanian public schools and colleges, it’s educators who should get the credit for hard work with minimal resources.”

“The reality is that public school retention rates are steady or increasing while private school retention rates are dropping, despite both state and federal government increasing per student funding to private schools more than public schools.”

The Tasmanian Liberal Government has increased per student funding to private schools by 27.5% between 2014-15 and 2017-18 while in the same time period increasing funding to each public school student by only 5%. Per student funding across all governments increased 19% for the private sector compared to 7% for public students.1

“This unfair funding approach from Liberal governments only serves to magnify the inequities in our education system also highlighted by the Productivity Commission report.”

“It’s a disgrace that in Tasmania students from the highest socioeconomic backgrounds have a year 12 equivalent attainment rate of 69 percent while those in the lower socioeconomic group have attainment rates of 52 percent.” 1

“How can Liberal Governments conclude from these figures that it is private students that need a greater increase in funding than public students?”

“It’s the public schools and colleges that are doing the heavy lifting, but Liberal governments are failing to back them.”

“Teachers, principals and support staff in our Tasmanian public schools and colleges have classes where an average 42 percent of students have a low socioeconomic background, compared to 19 percent at private schools.” 1

“The higher level of need for our public students hasn’t changed in years, so how do Liberal governments justify favouring private schools with funding increases?”

“Our impressive public schools and colleges have classes where more students have extensive or substantial disability, live in remote or isolated areas, are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, have experienced trauma at home and come from disadvantaged backgrounds – isn’t it time the funding followed need and Liberal governments truly backed public education?”


Change in Government spend per Tas student (2014-15 to 2018-19) 1
Public SchoolsNon-Government Schools
Australian Government18%22%
Tasmanian Government5%27.50%
All Governments7%19%


  • Note on retention figures in Productivity Commission report: Tasmanian students are more likely to be part time enrolled with work and caring commitments than students in other states.
    • The “full time and part time students” figures from the ROGS show apparent retention rates for secondary students in government schools increased from 85.1% in 2014 to 87.4% in 2019.
    • The “full time and part time students” figures from the ROGS show apparent retention rates for secondary students in non-government schools decreased from 68.6% in 2014 to 63.9% in 2019.