Should free education be a right for every Australian? 324



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“We are all diminished when any of us are denied proper education. The nation is the poorer – a poorer economy, a poorer civilisation, because of this human and national waste”, So said Gough Whitlam in his 1969 campaign.

Whatever you think of the former Prime Minister, he is credited with making free education for all a reality in Australia by increasing spending on public schools seven times over, and providing access to university for those who wanted it.

Today, Tony Abbott is under fire for taking steps to reduce – or even cut – funding to schools.

A leaked Federal Government discussion paper has outlined four options for reform, two that are gaining a lot of attention. One suggests wealthy parents pay for their children to attend public schools.

Another proposes the Federal Government drop funding for public schools all together, handing over the bill to State Governments. News Limited reports this option would save the federal government $15 billion per year but would leave the states $2 billion worse off.

The other remaining options are making states and territories fully responsible for funding public schools while the federal government funds non-government schools; and reducing Commonwealth involvement in schools, but without significant structural change.

Critics say the Government is looking for a way to reduce funding to schools despite promising there would be no cuts to education in the 2013 election.

The green paper is being circulated among the state and territory governments for feedback and the Australian Education Union has called them to reject both these options.”It is a fundamental right of every Australian to be able to access public schools free of charge and has been since the 19th century,”said federal president Correna Haythorpe.

Tell us, in this day and age, do you believe free education is a fundamental right for all Australians or do you agree that some people should pay for it? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Wonderful if we live in Utopia why not, the problem is somebody has to pay, with the present situation I can’t see how it is possible.

    2 REPLY
    • You are right that it’s not possible with a conservative government, Norman. Abbott will take us from here to Dystopia.

  2. Yes. It was never a matter of whether we can afford it, but a matter of how much it will cost us if we don’t have it.

  3. Public education has never been completely free there have been school fees of some sort for years and years

    1 REPLY
    • What I paid for my kids to go to school in the late 70s was nothing compaired to what they have to pay for their kids in school today, plus Uni was free compaired to the 10s of thousands they pay now.

  4. We had it easy compaired to how much it costs now, very hard for family’s today, especially with a few kids.

    2 REPLY
    • I don’t know how parents manage, in our day a set of pencils was enough, today they have to pay for lap tops etc. The over all costs have hugely increased

    • True Libbi, I see what my sons have to pay for their kids & I wonder how I would have managed, another reason both parents have to work these days.

  5. The Coalition was always going to cut funding for education and they were happy to lie about it before the election. The LNP/Liberal Party are dedicated to cutting funding for education, health, science, the environment, climate change policy,welfare, the NBN and public broadcasting. This is conservative policy and it’s ideological. Nobody should be surprised about this because it is exactly what we should expect from an Abbott/ Hockey government.

    10 REPLY
    • Check it out properly… the PAPERS are being pushed by your Loving GREENS government.. you stooges off the LEFT….

    • Faye, I’m not sure what you are referring to. Here in Queensland there were lots of cuts to services in all areas by the Newman government. Health, education and transport were the biggest cuts. Some of this was the result of funding cuts by the Abbott government (especially cuts to the Gonski arrangements) and now the state Labor government is having to deal with the reduced funding in these areas. They have reduced the cuts to services in some areas for example by employing more nurses. The States are forced to make cuts when the Federal government reduces funding.

    • Gary, I don’t know what you are talking about. There are no Green Governments in Australia. Much of the media in Australia is owned by Rupert Murdoch and is generally seen as being right wing. The Fairfax papers are more balanced and are seen by some as left wing but I think it’s a bit much to say that the Greens or Labor dominate the Papers. Also, I’m nobodies stooge. I have never been a member of any political party and no party can take my vote for granted. What’s your story?

    • In one fell swoop Tony “no cuts” Abbott cut $80 BILLION from the states. Each state government has had to make do as best they can with cuts from their health, education , seniors programmes, roadworks etc.

    • I really think we should push up tax a lot more so we can keep more public servants in a job, that’s simple enough for all for you stupid public servants to keep your useless jobs

    • there is just so much bullshit here, there is no smart arse here that could go out and do an honest days work, the clever bastard would tell the boss to put it up his nose, there are plenty of people from overseas that will come in and do the work while I can get the dole

    • Max, I’m not a public servant. I’m a self funded retiree who used to work in the private health sector. However, I have many relatives and friends who are teachers, nurses, scientists, psychologists, police etc in the public service who are neither stupid or useless and deserve our support for the wonderful and essential work that they do. I won’t make any assumptions about how much tax that you pay but you should remember that public servants pay tax too.

    • Instead of cuts to education, how about full Gonski funding for our schools, as promised by Abbott before the last election in their unity ticket with ALP. All schools will get the funding they need then, and all of Australia will benefit from having a well-educated population.

  6. Public school education hasn’t be free for decades. My parents had to pay fees etc when I went to school in the sixties!!!

  7. Fees are surprisingly high at free schools nowadays. Health and education is the very least we can expect our tax dollars to cover, otherwise we might as well all opt out, go live in a commune and tell the government to stuff their way of life.

    5 REPLY
    • I agree! I don’t have kids but I am more than happy for my taxes to go to health & free education (although I don’t think it is too free these days.

    • I think more and more people are looking at alternatives to increasingly disfunctional and costly
      Government systems

    • we need a new party which govern for our people, there is no more difference between the two big ones, education up to finish high school must be free, any cut on education backfires very soon

    • New political party to launch later this year. Started up by Perth Orthopaedic surgeon and his wife.
      Australian Liberty Alliance. Maybe they can give both labour and Liberal a bit of competition.

  8. nothing is free taxpayers pay all the bills ,however education(with the exception of some of the ridiculous courses offered at universities that will be of little or no use to employment) and all health care ,including dental should be paid for out of general revenue

  9. Yes I do! The government increase taxes, and do not want to give much back for those taxes to the people in need. They want to abolish unions that keep employers honest and providing safe work places. When I was at school my parents did not have to buy anything. At the small country school, we did not have uniforms. The Education Department supplied everything. It was by choice, that parents bought books, pencils, rulers etc if the children did not want gov issue. When my children went to school, I was a stay at home mum, my husband earned enough to support our family needs. There was still very little cost, the uniform was the most costly item, however could be resold. When my children entered high school, parents paid into a text book scheme, where an annual fee was paid for renting the text books each year. This enabled the school to purchase books to be passed on to the students. It was optional if parents wanted to buy text books. University was costly in 1988 because we did not live in the city and my student had to pay rent etc so worked while she studied. I do not know how families can afford the high cost of everything that is required for education, health, housing, rent, running vehicles, bus fares etc. It takes both parents working, just to make ends meet and private health cover is out of reach for working class families now.

    2 REPLY
    • You’re joking right. The Unions keeping people honest? You make me laugh. The Unions are the most corrupt entity we have in Australia.
      Forget the days gone by this is 2015 and the world as you knew it has changed. Move on!

  10. Just heard on the news that this won’t happen. Mind you there are a lot of very rich people out there with childrenn at public schools who could be generous at a local level but aren’t. Many people send their children to public schools to save money so they can put it into tutoring.

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