Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan) — I rise to speak on the commonwealth government cuts to Victorian schools. The Prime Minister’s decision to abandon the original Gonski school funding agreement will short‑change Victorian government schools some $630 million in 2018 and 2019. These cuts will hit my electorate — 134 schools, to be exact — especially hard. Warringa Park School in Werribee, for example, will lose $1.2 million in school funding. Keilor Downs College in St Albans will be short‑changed $1 million, and Sunbury College will be $800 000 worse off. The $630 million lost in school funding could have been used to hire 5000 teachers or 6000 allied health staff. It could also have paid for numeracy experts, psychologists, speech pathologists, social workers, library assistants and career counsellors. It could have been used to ensure that critical support is provided to students at risk of falling behind.

The cuts to Victorian schools do not make sense. The Andrews Labor government has honoured its obligations under the Gonski agreement in the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 school years and fixed the black hole that was left by the previous Liberal government. Furthermore, in this year’s budget we provided an additional $456 million in funding to schools. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party short‑changed Victoria in terms of infrastructure funding, and now this mob is cheating Victorians by taking away school funding. Instead of ensuring that the educational needs of our students are adequately met, Malcolm Turnbull has turned his back on Victorian students and their families. He is known as the Prime Minister of Sydney.

24 May 2017