Rockliff must go ‘cold turkey’ this Christmas and quit rorting public school funding

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff must agree at National Cabinet [Wednesday 6 December] to give up a loophole that has allowed his government to divert millions of dollars intended for student learning into accounting tricks and non-school costs, the Australian Education Union (AEU) Tasmanian Branch said today.

Independent economist Adam Rorris described the accounting loophole contained in the state and federal bi-lateral school funding agreements as a “segregated rort against public schools”.

“Premier Jeremy Rockliff must commit to going ‘cold turkey’ this Christmas at National Cabinet, making clear that his government will reject any future accounting loopholes that would short-change students,” said AEU Tasmania President David Genford.

“Existing bi-lateral funding arrangements allow states to write off as ‘additional expenditure’ millions of dollars in paper-based expenses such as capital depreciation, and the cost of running regulatory authorities and school transport,” said Mr Genford.

“Mr Rockliff must commit at National Cabinet that his government will spend every future dollar of its Schooling Resource Standard allocation to the direct benefit of student learning.”

“The accounting trickery must be ended now with Premier Rockliff leading the charge.”

The Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) is a benchmark level of funding that governments agreed was the minimum needed to enable schools to deliver a basic education to a majority of its students.

The accounting trickery allows state and territory governments to effectively reduce their cash allocations by 4% for public schools by inserting into their ‘contributions’ towards the SRS the entirely notional figure of capital depreciation.

The “4% allowance robs Tasmanian schools of around $47 million of state government SRS funding per year. In total, state and federal underfunding is $118 million per year which equates to, on average, $2,169 per student.

“Fixing the underfunding is critical to help students with educational achievement through measures such as reducing class sizes, enabling more individual attention for students, providing more support from specialists and improved learning materials.

“We welcome the Premier’s support for fully funded public schools and his advocacy for the Albanese Government increasing the Federal funding contribution to public schools from 20% to 25%, but only a Christmas Grinch would keep pinching 4% of funding intended to help kids in schools,” he said.