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Untruths and Scaremongering

The following letter from Louise Markus’s office was written in response to a letter from our President Margaret Foy expressing her concerns that from present indications, the 2014 budget will not truly reflect the statements made by the Prime Minister in the lead up to the 2013 election.

Reply received from the office of Mrs Markus 
Subject: RE: Question to the Prime Minister
Date: 28 April 2014 10:21:14 AM AEST

Dear Margaret,

On behalf of Mrs Markus, thank you for your email. Mrs Markus has requested I reply on her behalf on this occasion.

I understand you feel disappointed as there is actually much untruth and scaremongering regarding what The Prime Minister, is or is not saying.

In reference to your article below, firstly, there has not been any cuts to Education. The Coalition Government is keeping its commitments on school funding. The Government is committed to implementing a school funding model that is national, fair and needs based, whilst getting rid of the prescriptive command and control features that removed authority for schools from States, Territories and the non-government sector.

Labor left school funding in a mess. The hurried agreements signed in the dying days of the Labor Government meant some States secured funding, others only reached a heads of agreement, whilst others missed out completely. To add to this mess, Labor ripped out $1.2 billion in school funding for Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

We have already delivered what Labor failed to–a national agreement on school funding that ensures parents, principals and students, regardless of where they live, have needs-based funding over the next four years. We have restored $1.2 billion of education cut by Labor – bringing total additional school funding over the next four years to $2.8 billion, a 75% increase than that provided by Labor. This means that no State or Territory misses out. Importantly, the funding increase especially targets disadvantaged students such as those from a poorer socio-economic background, indigenous students, students with disability, and students in higher cost rural areas.

The Government will also honour funding promised to non-government representative bodies for four years including $55 million to Catholic Education Commissions and $110 million to the Association of Independent Schools. In addition to providing funding certainty the Coalition Government will improve schools and education outcomes for students. We are focussed on the things that we know work – good teachers, more local decision making, increased engagement of parents and a stronger curriculum.

Regarding the Pension, there has been no change to the Age Pension. The age increase to 67 was introduced by the former government and speculation around an increase to 70 is the result of an enquiry by the Independent Audit commission. NO decision has been made on an age increase to 70 and should this occur, that will not affect current pensioners. There are no changes to current age pensioners except for the increase which occurred on 20th March 2014 and another rise will occur in September this year.

Regarding the ABC and SBS, again there has been no cuts. The Government understands the significant relationship the national broadcasters have with Australians  and are committed to maintaining their quality programming and comprehensive broadcasting and digital media services.

The ABC and SBS receive $1.4 billion of taxpayers’ funds each year.  All Government agencies, providing a service to the community, have a duty to ensure taxpayers’ funds are used as efficiently as possible, and the national broadcasters are no exception.

The Australian Government provides funding to the ABC and SBS to provide broadcasting and digital media services in line with the responsibilities set out in the ABC Charter and SBS Charter. The public and the Government have varying levels of visibility into the costs of meeting these responsibilities. That is why the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull MP, has directed the Department of Communications to conduct an efficiency studying into both the ABC and SBS that will break down these costs and find options for more efficient delivery of services.

The study, currently underway, will focus on the day to day operational costs of running the national broadcasters.  The study will not evaluate the quality of ABC and SBS programming and services, or make recommendations regarding their editorial independence.  There will not be any change to either organisations’ Charter.

The objective is to assist the national broadcasters to deliver their Charter responsibilities efficiently and to ensure the community receives value for money.

Unfortunately, the former government has left this country in such a poor economic state that there is $10 billion interest bill each year alone. Good economics looks at what we are spending now so as to be able to sustain us into the future. We do this for our family and it should be done for our country.

I am sorry that there is much misinformation and this matter has caused you worry. I hope this email alleviates your some of your concerns.

Please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Markus if you require further clarification or more information at any time.

Kind regards