Coalition proposes cuts to online student testing

Online student diagnostics faces elimination in coalition's proposed flood reconstruction fund

Among the cuts announced this week as part of the coalition's proposed alternative flood reconstruction fund are online diagnostic tools students promised by the current Gillard Government during the 2010 election campaign.

The $39.8 million program, announced in August last year, would have created a dedicated website allowing teachers and parents to compare individual students to average results for standardised tests like NAPLAN. Teachers would also have had access to similar diagnostic tools within educational ICT networks.

Under spending cuts announced by opposition leader, Tony Abbott, as part of the coalition’s alternative flood reconstruction flood, the promised program would be cut in favour of $37 million in savings over the forward estimates.

“The Coalition believes that schools are the best place to achieve these objectives, which can be met from existing funding arrangements,” documents outlining the coalition’s spending cuts read.

Under the coalition’s planned cuts, $16 million would be saved in the next financial year, $11 million in 2012-2013 and a further $10 million in the 2013-2014 financial year by scrapping the program.

The cut forms part of a wider range of $2 billion in savings the coalition outlined this week as part of a proposed alternative reconstruction fund for those affected by floods in Queensland across the last month.

In announcing the government’s spending cuts and a flood levy for some Australians, Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged the National Broadband Network (NBN) would continue to be an infrastructure priority despite calls to scrap it in favour of providing financial assistance to Queenslanders.

“2011 remains a year when I will be delivering the National Broadband Network, creating more opportunity through education reforms, improving health care and a year when I will make long-term decisions on increasing participation and pricing carbon,” she said at the time.

Though the opposition has led many calls for the NBN’s scrapping, the project was not mentioned as part of the savings proposed by the coalition this week.

The coalition’s cuts would instead re-establish major road projects reprioritised by the government’s current plan, and replace the flood levy planned for taxpayers with annual incomes of more than $50,000.

Abbott told media that spending cuts were decided upon in shadow cabinet meetings held on Friday and Monday.

“We need to find additional savings to fund flood reconstruction because we have a government that has been utterly profligate with taxpayers' money,” he said.

“By announcing tough decisions today, the coalition is demonstrating that we are a credible alternative, and we are ready for government whenever such a term might occur.”

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags NBNNational Broadband Network (NBN)Tony Abbottdiagnostic tools

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