It may have escaped attention last week that the Coalition waved the Gonski bill through the House of Representatives on the voices and without amendment. The common view in the press has been that Gonski is dead in the water because Abbott and Pyne have said that they will repeal it unless all states agree.
Laura Tingle in the AFR points out that the new funding system will be the law of the land when we wake up on September 15. Since that article went to press South Australia has signed up, joining New South Wales and the ACT. Tasmania will almost certainly follow. Of the remaining states, Victoria seems likeliest.
Queensland has been extremely negative and will probably remain outside the tent. Last week Peter Garrett was banned from two Qld state schools. The Courier Mail has been quite unhelpful to the Newman government, publishing a full list of the funding proposals for state schools. The Queensland government has been claiming that some schools will receive less. The list shows them all receiving more, from a minimum of 19.4% to 134.5% per student by 2019. Also Garrett on ABC Insiders said that the states have the capacity to vary the funding in their schools within the total amount.
On Local ABC this morning Garrett told Steve Austin that everything Qld has been saying about the Gonski proposal is wrong, Queensland has made no submission to a parliamentary committee considering amendments to fine-tune the legislation and have been negotiating in bad faith.
Courtesy of ninmsm you can now get the full list of funding for Victorian government schools. There was an interview with the Victorian Minister on Breakfast this morning. They have yet to analyse the latest figures, which they say have changed. The minister is emphasising that the increase is over the period to 2019, so all schools would get more under the existing arrangements. He was surprised that the state would have the flexibility to shift money between schools. He seemed amenable to discussions and was focussed on the June 30 deadline, which he regarded as arbitrary.
The Queensland minister John-Paul Langbroek is on record as saying that he is legally responsible for non-government schools and must approve their funding, implying he may not. Tingle says:
Forget all the noise about whether the Catholic and independent schools will sign up. They will get the funding government gives them.
Tingle also says:
The Labor view – shared by many in the education sector – is that, despite the huffing of the Coalition’s education spokesman Chris Pyne, the Gonski reforms will be very hard to undo.
For a start, undoing them will require repealing the Australian Education Bill.
Since the Senate numbers won’t change until July next year, the argument goes, the Coalition would have little chance of getting a repeal through before the funding starts flowing to schools on January 1.
So Pyne will have to face the prospect of finding extra funds for the states that don’t sign, or tell them they will be disadvantaged because they failed to come to terms with the Gillard government.
Suddenly the strategy of the non-signers is looking good. They may get extra funding without contributing extra themselves. Surely not!
No doubt Pyne has thought of what his spiel will be, but he’s not telling us. He is insisting that he will repeal the legislation before January 1 and that the Senate must accept the Coalition’s mandate. He must know that’s a joke.
Nor does he have much concrete to say about education policy at all. Yet. Tingle again:
Pyne’s position, of course, confirms the Coalition will be going to the poll without a new school funding policy other than ‘not theirs’. The Coalition’s health spokesman Peter Dutton confirmed to my colleague Joanna Heath this week there isn’t really a health policy either, since other issues are more important.
In any other time, a political party going to an election without substantive health and education policies would be laughable.
The fact no one is laughing says more about the current state of politics than who is or isn’t laughing at revolting, sexist jokes on restaurant menus.
When the LNP cough up their costings there will have to be a line for education. I’m betting that we’ll get it two days before the election and it will tell us nothing we need to know on school funding.