Mercury (Hobart)

Education budget cuts ‘don’t add up’

- DAVID KILLICK Political Editor

LABOR has accused the Liberals of making cuts to the state’s education budget — but have been told they need a lesson in arithmetic.

Opposition education spokesman Josh Willie said there was still more than $110 million in cuts to education lurking in the state budget.

He said the cuts were the equivalent of sacking 1300 teachers and would have an effect on the quality of education by reducing the number of support staff.

“Make no mistake, this will impact on student learning, and the ability of teachers and staff to perform their job,” he said.

“It means less time for teachers to put into quality teaching and learning in their preparatio­n.

“It will mean less support for schools: back of house staff in the Education Department play a critical role supporting our schools and the operation of our schools day to day.”

“The government can dress it up how they like, but this is not the time to be cutting schools.”

The government’s Revised Estimates Report, released on Tuesday, shows that efficiency dividends imposed on the Department of Education of $108.9 million over four years remain in place.

The department’s budget over that period is $6.4 billion, meaning the cuts are equivalent to less than 1.6 per cent of the overall budget.

The government has reduced the amount it is seeking to cut from all department­s across the forward estimates from $450 million to $300 million.

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said there would be no cuts to “frontline services” in education, and Labor was scaremonge­ring to get headlines.

“We have a strong record when it comes to education, which includes employing an additional 221 full-time teachers and over 64 profession­al support staff,” he said.

“We’ve introduced literary coaches and invested record amounts into infrastruc­ture, while implementi­ng new initiative­s to improve education outcomes. We recognise that a great education is a passport to a better life, and we will continue to invest heavily in education to support all students.

“In contrast, Labor tried to close 20 schools, and the retention and school completion rate under the Labor/Green Government was the lowest in the country.”

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