26 June 2017

SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbulls unfair $22 billion cut to schools; Cuts to schools funding in every NT School

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Good morning Katie and to all your listeners

KATIE WOLFE PRESENTER MIX 104.9 FM DARWIN: Malarndirri its obviously going to be a very interesting week in Parliament, the Turnbull Government its being reported this morning, risks losing one of its own Senators has it tries to lock in cross bench support for its overhaul of schools funding. It is retiring Liberal Chris Back who leaves Parliament at the end of this week. Well hes upset that Catholic schools are going to lose out under the package. Talk me through the situation this week and Labors concerns of course this week with education funding.

MCCARTHY: We certainly have serious concerns around this funding we have spoken about the $22 billion that we are calling on the Turnbull Government that this is not on right across Australia. My concerns are predominately with the Northern Territory. If I just go to your question around senator back. I think that has thrown a real spanner in the works to have him announce this morning, on the day that the Education Minister is trying to negotiate with Pauline Hansons party, Derryn Hinch and the Greens, he needs every vote he can get this week and one of his own has decided he might make a stand. Its a government in chaos.

WOLFE: Its very concerning, I guess the big thing for us in the NT is we dont want to know how are we losing out when it comes to education funding in the Territory?

MCCARTHY: All government schools in the Northern Territory will lose education funding Katies under this particular model that the Turnbull Government wants to pass this week. 151 government schools will lose funding in the Territory, 58 of those schools are in Darwin, this attack on education is really shattering the hopes and dreams of the education for our young people and it is really eroding our future in the Northern Territory.

WOLFE: Malarndirri how much money are we talking for the Northern Territory?

MCCARTHY: At this stage we are looking at exactly the funding in terms of the total overall look and I guess that is the thing, the figures seem to go up and down. What we do know is that the Prime Minister Turnbull wants to give private schools 80 per cent of their fair level of funding, and public schools just 20 per cent. Certainly with Labors school funding plan we want to see 80 per cent of the extra money in public schools and that is because public schools teach the vast majority of Australia's poorest kids, Indigenous kids, and of course kids with a disability Katie.

WOLFE: Well you know there would be a lot of Territory parents out there listening right now, myself I included, feeling as though there is a political battle between Labor and the Liberals and not really being sure what exactly to believe and how our children will be affected at school each and every day, by this funding model. What is your message to those parents?

MCCARTHY: You are right to feel confused because everything that has happened in relation to the Federal Governments budget around education has been confusing. The fact that they cant be quite clear on taking something through and they are prepared to move from one side to the other shows us that they dont really quite know either so to those families out there who are wondering what is going on, certainly write to your local members, certainly send me any letters about the concerns that you have, even if it has to be confidential in relation to what you are being told in each of your schools and I think that is really important for the opposition to be aware of what families are being told in every school in the Northern Territory.

WOLFE: Like you said 151 schools in the Territory, 58 of those in Darwin, if they are going to have some of their funding cut, is it going to be a situation where weve got less teachers, less programs, how do you think we are going to be affected?

MCCARTHY: It is very concerning and theyre appropriate questions, we have seen already the $2billion cut in GST to the Territory and the NT Treasurer has said that it is equivalent to 5000 teachers or nurses per year for the next four years, so we as the Federal Labor members are really asking the Government to have a good look at what youre doing to the Northern Territory because what is happening and what we are seeing is a complete erosion of really, future prosperity for our young people.

WOLFE: And like we mentioned at the start of the interview, we do have the retiring Liberal Chris Back who is leaving Parliament this week but he is upset that Catholic Schools will lose out under the package, we do have a few Catholic Schools in the Northern Territory, should they be concerned as well in this situation.

MCCARTHY: My understanding is that the Northern Territory Catholic Schools, I have been informed by the Northern Territory Government that they are in a better situation, but whats changed Katie is this morning a report is being spoken about which is Parliamentary Budget Offices independent report, and that report I need to drill down in to the detail of this over the next few days, that report shows figures differ to what Minister Birmingham is saying to what the Catholic sector now realises. That is a real concern and we need to have a good look at what those figures are.

WOLFE: Senator where to from here, what the plan from the federal Labor party from today and this week obviously in Parliament?

MCCARTHY: Labor in contrast, weve always said our plan is 80 per cent of the additional funding must go to public schools. Weve said all schools must move up to their funding level by 2019 and that we will restore the 22 billion that the Turnbull government is cutting from schools and in particular in relation to children with disabilities that is so vital, there should never be any cuts, especially in that particular area which is quite vulnerable.

All I would urge Katie to all those families across the Northern Territory but especially those in Darwin please write to me and let me know what is going on with your school and let me know what youre being told. Theyre the questions that I then ask here in the Senate, obviously not needing to reveal who the people are that are sending me those things. It does help me, it help warren Snowdon and Luke Gosling as we try to unpack what people and families schools are actually being told.

WOLFE: Labor senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy, always great to catch up with you thank you for trying to help us better understand this education debacle, we appreciate your time.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.