From Jane Caro in today's SMH
On the eve of discussions with the states about how schools will be funded in what he is calling a post-Gonski world, federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham is huffing and puffing about how Gonski (which he knows is extremely popular with just about everyone except federal Liberal education ministers) has been "corrupted" anyway.
And who is he claiming corrupted it? I'll give you two guesses – though you only need one. The ALP and Bill Shorten running around doing dodgy deals with the states just before the demise of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government, of course.
According to Birmingham, the ALP diddled the Liberal states like WA, Queensland and Victoria (its Coalition state government was on its last legs in 2013) out of their fair share of Gonski funds in favour of Labor led states like Tasmania, South Australia and, um, whoops ... Coalition-led NSW.
Unfortunately for Birmingham, 2013 isn't as long ago as he would like. Many of us actually recall what happened when the Gonski funding deal was originally negotiated. Just as Stephen Colbert pointed out when Donald Trump declared that it was Clinton who started the Barack Obama birther controversy and all he nobly did was finish it, we were alive, we were there and we saw it on the TV.
For those who have forgotten, most Liberal/National-led states other than NSW succumbed to intense political pressure from then-opposition leader Tony Abbott to refuse to sign up to the deal. For the first time in living memory, a bunch of Premiers refused a bucket of money. They did so, to their eternal shame, for political reasons. To put that into perspective, they played political football using the educational chances of their state's poorest and most vulnerable children as the ball. It is nice to see that all of them, barring Colin Barnett in Western Australia, have since been consigned to history.
Abbott won the 2013 election, promising – among many other things – a unity ticket on Gonski. Within weeks of forming government, then-federal education minister Christopher Pyne tried to welch on the deal. The outcry was so loud that he was forced to – sort-of – back down. But to save face he gave the money to the states with no strings attached. State governments were allowed to choose how they'd spend it. That was a corruption of Gonski, and some states then proceeded to cut funds to education and not distribute it as fairly as the Gonski formula intended. That corruption of Gonski, Minister Birmingham, is entirely of your own government's making.(In fact the LNP Victorian state government failed to pass on any Gonski funding to schools. They used a lot of it to fund a teacher pay rise! What is so frustrating is the lack of media exposure applied to Birmingham and his government over this. He seems to get a free ride by a largely inept, ignorant and biased Press Gallery.)
The ALP did their own corrupting early on by hog-tying the Gonski review panel when they decreed no school could lose a dollar. This is the main reason why Gonski is more expensive than it needs to be, because even luxuriously resourced schools cannot have a dollar of public funding removed. Using that to justify not funding Gonski is a reverse Robin Hood – robbing the poor to give to the rich.
It seems that no matter which party is in power it is only the public funding of private schools that is always sacrosanct. Indeed, Birmingham has warned that there will be losers under his new scheme. Well, mathematically there must be as the Coalition is only investing a fraction of the funding due to schools under the Gonski formula, most of which went to the schools educating the poorest kids.
Tragically, I am prepared to put money on the fact that contrary to good sense, natural justice, principles of fairness and just plain logic, all the losers will be public schools.(Sadly so am I Jane. The only losers in federal funding for schools are state schools! that is a scandal!)