This story appeared in the Brisbane Times
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's electorate of New England is among the biggest beneficiaries of additional "Gonski" funding over the past four years and among the likely biggest losers under the Coalition's school funding plan, a Herald analysis can reveal.
Nationals electorates at state and federal level were the biggest winners in the first four years of Gonski funding, receiving on average almost three times the amount that went to their Liberal colleagues' electorates, and more than 1.5 times Labor electorates.
But despite their electorates standing to lose the most from the Coalition's school funding policy, Mr Joyce and the federal Nationals have remained in lockstep with their federal Liberal colleagues on the issue, while NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has championed the model
Asked to comment on the Nationals' large share of Gonski funding, Mr Piccoli, a National, said Gonski was designed to go to areas of highest need and make up for historical under-funding which had particularly affected regional areas.
And he slammed the political priorities of the Nationals' federal party leader, Barnaby Joyce.
"I think that the issues that Barnaby Joyce has been prosecuting are off target," said Mr Piccoli, who may lose his long-held portfolio in this week's expected reshuffle.
"The biggest issue in regional NSW is not that there's not enough brands of shotguns to be able to buy or the backpacker tax, it's that our children are underperforming at school - and that's across government, Catholic and independent schools.