The Labor Party has abandoned needs-based funding and the principles of the Gonski Review that they lauded until it was no longer politically expedient.
I am disappointed but not surprised that Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek have chosen to play politics with this issue rather than to back the 9,000 schools that stand to gain from our Gonski plan.
The Labor Party will need to explain:
- Why they will vote to see Government schools receive at most 4.7 per cent legislated funding growth compared to the Coalition’s plan for 5.1 per cent average annual increases;
- Why they will vote for schools of identical need to receive different levels of federal funding for their Schooling Resource Standard just because they live in a different state;
- Why, after invoking his name for years, they are going against David Gonski's endorsement of the Coalition’s plan;
- Why they prefer different funding methodologies that advantage some non-government schools over others; and
- If they want to continue the 27 special deals Labor implemented that sees a needy student in one state get up to $1,500 less than if that same student was in the same school but in another state
Labor is trying to have an argument about funding, but the legislation before Parliament is about delivering a real, needs-based model to distribute that funding. We are wiping away the 27 special deals Labor stitched up that Gonski Review panellist Dr Ken Boston said “corrupted” needs-based funding.
Spending is not a substitute for reform. It is remarkable that after years of posturing on 'Gonski', Bill Shorten now stands opposed to the Turnbull Government's consistent implementation of a needs-based funding model.
Labor should listen to what David Gonski said himself, when Prime Minister Turnbull and I announced our $18.6 billion reform plan:
“…I'm very pleased to hear that the Turnbull Government has accepted the fundamental recommendations of our 2011 report, and particularly regarding a needs-based situation… I'm very pleased that there is substantial additional money, even over indexation and in the foreseeable future…When we did the 2011 review, our whole concept was that there would be a school’s resource standard which would be nominated and we nominated one, and I'm very pleased that the Turnbull Government has taken that.”
David Gonski AC, Media Conference, 2/5/17
If David Gonski himself wasn’t enough, then Labor should listen to some of the many other independent education experts who have backed the Coalition’s plan:
“Today’s announcement on school funding is welcome. The Coalition has set out a 10-year goal of every school being consistently funded by the Commonwealth.”
Peter Goss, Grattan Institute, 2/5/17
“…the things that stand out to me as positive are a much bigger emphasis on really matching the funding to where it's needed. So the first version of Gonski did a lot of this, but it had shortcomings.”
Bronwyn Hinz, The Mitchell Institute, Interview on ABC Southern Queensland, 3/5/17
“The Australian Parents Council welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister and Education Minister… ‘It is very positive to hear the commitment to a single, needs-based, sector blind funding model for Australian schools…’”
Shelley Hill, Australian Parents Council, Media release, 3/5/17
Further details of the Turnbull Government’s plan to transform schools available here and at www.education.gov.au/qualityschools