Turnbull's funding failure

Turnbull's funding failure

The Turnbull Government’s attempt to scrap Gonski funding was completely rejected at a farcical Education Council meeting in Hobart on Friday 7 April.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham not only failed to present an alternative funding proposal, he has failed to convince a single state to back attempts to end needs-based Gonski funding after 2017.

State and territory ministers have spoken out against the plan, saying that the Turnbull Government must honour the six-year Gonski agreements, and that cutting funding will hit disadvantaged students the hardest.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said that failing to honour the last two years of the Gonski agreements would have the biggest impact on disadvantaged students.

He presented a new analysis which showed that NSW faced losing $1.3 billion in 2018 and 2019 if Gonski funding was not extended past this year.

He said this worked out to an average of $1400 less in federal government support for every NSW public school student and $500 for every private school student.

Mr Stokes said: "We have a bi-lateral agreement and have met our obligations and we will be insisting the Commonwealth does likewise".

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that Malcolm Turnbull needed to listen to the states, and honour the full six years of the Gonski agreements, which would deliver an extra $3.8 billion in resources to schools.

“But only one-third of the extra funding in the Gonski agreements has been delivered, and we need funding to continue in 2018 and 2019 so all schools have the resources they need.

Ms Haythorpe said that the Turnbull Government had repeatedly failed to meet its own deadlines to develop a concrete funding proposal in the 11 months since it announced it wanted to end Gonski.

“We have had months of excuses, and there is still no detail, and no alternative proposal on the table.

The Federal Government now wants to hold yet another Education Ministers meeting in June, just a few weeks before the COAG meeting where Malcolm Turnbull has said he wants a funding agreement to be finalised.

This is a chaotic, last-minute attempt to justify the Turnbull Government’s attempts to end needs-based funding.

Both Labor and Coalition state governments today called on Malcolm Turnbull to fund Gonski in full, with six other education ministers joining Rob Stokes in condemning the delay and standing up for Gonski.

Acting Victorian Education Minister Jenny Mikakos said:

“Victorian schools, students and parents still have no idea if the homework clubs, extra teachers and reading and maths programs will continue because Malcolm Turnbull refuses to put a funding offer on the table.”

“For Victoria, Malcolm Turnbull walking away from the Gonski funding agreement represent a $1 billion lost to our Victorian students, mainly from our most needy and disadvantaged students. This funding is absolutely critical to lifting student outcomes.”

“We know that by investing in education we are investing in our country’s future. We will not stand silently and allow Malcolm Turnbull to walk away from schools funding in this county. It is not good enough that schools still have no clarity about funding into the future.”

ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said:

“The ACT signed up to agreements for six years, with reforms to support the schools and students that are the most disadvantaged. We’ve implemented the reforms, we now need a clear commitment from the federal government. The only way they can do that is to live up to their side of the agreement.”

“Regardless of their politics, state and territory education ministers are united in opposition to cuts to Gonski,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Malcolm Turnbull is ignoring advice from state governments, principals, parents and teachers that Gonski needs-based funding is working, and trying to push ahead with his own flawed system which would end needs-based funding.

“He needs to admit his plans have failed, and give our schools the funding they need.”