Mr HOWARD (Ballarat East)— I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Education. I ask the minister to take action to make information available to parents, students, teachers and school principals which explains how the additional Better Schools funding, or Gonski funding, is being allocated across the state. Members of the education community in my electorate were excited to follow the outcomes of the Gonski review of education and to learn that the Gillard federal government was prepared to commit substantial funding to support better outcomes for schools across the country. Following the signing of an agreement between the Victorian government and the federal government in August last year, that level of excitement grew, and the education community was relieved when then opposition leader Tony Abbott promised to honour the agreement if he became Prime Minister.
The agreement promised an additional $12.2 billion of funding from the federal government, which was balanced by the state government’s provision of an additional $5.4 billion to support better outcomes in our schools across Victoria.
Sadly, as we know, the Abbott government has now agreed to fund only the first four years of the agreement, and I expect that the Minister for Education and the government will argue strongly for the federal government to honour the full six years of the agreement. Schools would have expected to receive substantial increases in their funding under the agreed Better Schools funding guidelines, but as yet they still do not understand how this funding is being delivered.
It is important that the minister clarify this matter. I have been talking to school principals and other members of school communities who are still unclear about how the Better Schools funding is going to be delivered to them and how they can plan better outcomes for their students and put in place the appropriate programs.
I ask the minister take action to provide clear information to the principals and school communities across my electorate, and I guess across the whole state, explaining where the Gonski money is, how it is being delivered and how they can plan for the future. It is clearly very important that this information be provided. The expectation is out there that schools will gain this additional funding, but they want to understand how this money is being distributed and how they can expect to spend it.