The countdown to election day is on and because the Coalition’s held power for almost a decade, this is Australia’s big chance for change. So we’re here to help you understand and compare each major party’s education policies and lay it all out without the political spin.
NOTE: promises are often broken so we’ve also prepared a little look back at the voting track records of Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese and Adam Bandt — because what they do speaks louder than their words.
We’ll compare the Coalition, Labor and the Greens’ policies on all the issues important to young people.
Time to round out this measure up series with something that’s on most young people’s minds: education.
The Coalition’s Education Policy
We are not surprised at all that the Coalition’s education policy is heavily focused on schools, TAFE and apprenticeships rather than universities after it cut as much as 30 per cent of their funding for some courses.
Disclaimer: a lot of this was already announced in the 2022 budget so they haven’t really offered much that’s new, exciting or that wasn’t planned anyway.
Starting with schools, it’s planned to increase annual funding from $25 billion in 2022 to $33 billion in 2029. That’s to all schools, so lucky for kids at private or Catholic schools whose per student funding increased by $3,338 a student over a decade, compared with $703 more per student for public schools.
The Coalition would also provide $40 million to support 760 new teachers through extra training particularly for STEM subjects over the next two years.
It’ll also continue to fund its controversial school chaplaincy program which puts religious leaders in schools instead of mental health professionals to run “wellbeing” programs. Very good.
And $17.3 million would be invested in extending the Indigenous Boarding Grants Program for the next 12 months to help First Nations students from remote areas attend schools.
There’s also some pretty dicey stuff about how the Australian Curriculum champions Australian values and “ensures students learn Indigenous history” but also that the government would “safeguard evidence-based practices” and “defend the new curriculum’s sharpened focus on Australian history and values”.
Why do I think that for some reason this wouldn’t be applied to climate science but would be applied to talking about Captain Cook as a pioneering hero? After all First Nations people weren’t keeping written evidence of their own genocide after the First Fleet arrived…
The government hasn’t promised anything new for unis during the election campaign so it’s really not looking good for the sector that’s been crying out for more money after the pandemic.
Apprentices on the other hand are in for a bit of extra cash and more opportunities.
The 2022 budget promised $5,000 payments to all new apprentices and an additional 800,000 training places in both TAFE and private providers (which operate in order to make a profit) over the next five years for school leavers and job seekers.
Labor’s Education Policy
A Labor government would up funding big-time to childcare and early education and give $440 million to schools to improve ventilation to prevent the spread of airborne bugs, building upgrades and mental health support.
Unis would get $481.7 million to deliver up to 20,000 extra university places over 2022 and 2023 and said it would “aim to prioritise the new funding for universities”. But that doesn’t really mean anything. Labor hasn’t explicitly said it would reverse the uni funding cuts so some courses would remain very expensive for students for the foreseeable future.
For TAFE though, things could be about to get better.
Labor would fund 465,000 free TAFE places including 45,000 new TAFE places if elected. It would also create a $50 million TAFE Technology Fund to improve facilities across the country.
Labor would also offer contingent loans to 2,000 final year students (uni or TAFE) and recent graduates to get them into programs to help them create their own start-ups or small businesses.
For apprentices, Labor has promised to invest $100 million to support 10,000 apprentices and encourage them to train in new energy jobs. Thank you, this is the type of investment our planet desperately needs from governments.
The Greens’ Education Policy
The Greens have pulled out the big guns here. By taxing Australia’s richest people a *bit* more the Greens said it could make childcare, early education, public schools, TAFE and universities ALL COMPLETELY FREE.
And on top of that it’s promised to wipe all student debt outstanding in Australia.
This would obviously cost tens of billions of dollars but they have a pretty straightforward plan.
Like honestly why isn’t everyone voting for them? Uni used to be free under a Labor government in the 1970s and wow look how many boomers today benefitted from that and then conveniently forgot how blessed they are.