​Gonski vote cost Turnbull

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5 July 2016

Malcolm Turnbull’s attempt to abandon Gonski funding cost him vital support in Saturday’s election, with education emerging as a vote-changing issue due to strong grassroots Gonski campaigning.

While the result of the election is still unclear, AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that Gonski had clearly been a key issue in marginal seats.

Exit polling by SKY News yesterday found that 63 per cent of voters rated education policy as “very important” as an issue, second only to health on 72 per cent, and well ahead of economic management.

“This backs AEU polling in marginal seats in the final weeks of the campaign which showed voters clearly supported Gonski and backed investing in schools ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to company tax,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Voters supported Gonski by a margin of 61.6 per cent to 17.4 per cent, and 63.6 per cent preferred it to company tax cuts.

“The Coalition’s arrogance in refusing to fund the essential public services that families rely on has come back to haunt them.

Ms Haythorpe said the AEU’s Gonski campaign – involving TV, print and online advertising and local co-ordinators in target seats – had worked because parents and communities understood the importance of education.

“The fact that Malcolm Turnbull wanted to stop Gonski after 2017, which would see schools lose $3.8 billion in funding, is not something the community supported.

At least two winning ALP candidates, Mike Kelly (Eden-Monaro) and Emma Husar (Lindsay), have credited support for Gonski in the community as one of the as one of the key issues which got them elected.

“Other electorates where the Gonski campaign had a local co-ordinator in place which recorded high swings away from the Coalition include: Gilmore, Dobell, Macquarie, Forde and Longman.

“These are regional or outer suburban seats, often with high numbers of low-SES students, where schools are major beneficiaries from targeted Gonski funding.

“Once parents are made aware of the benefits Gonski is delivering, they want to see the full six years of funding so their kids’ school has the resources it need.

It is also clear that Gonski was an issue in Tasmania where there were huge swings against the Coalition leading to the loss of three seats.

Under Malcolm Turnbull’s plan not only would schools miss out on Gonski, but Tasmania’s public schools would actually have their funding cut after 2017.

Ms Haythorpe said the AEU’s Gonski campaign had energised educators and other supporters.

“During the election campaign we had many principals willing to stick their necks out and tell parents, through newsletters or leaflets, the facts about what Gonski was doing, and what their school would miss out on if we didn’t get the full six years.

“We had teachers and school support staff prepared to go on the record, and go into the community and stand up and fight for their students.

Ms Haythorpe said that the AEU’s campaign for Gonski would continue, despite the uncertainty still surrounding the election result.