6 March 2018

SA-BEST Leader, Nick Xenophon, says media interviews and transcripts from last year prove that David Gonski himself supported the Xenophon team’s vote to get the ‘‘Gonski 2.0’’ school funding changes through the Senate.

The reports from May and June last year cite Gonski and two other members of the original Gonski panel - Ken Boston, the former head of the SA and NSW Education Departments, and Kathryn Greiner.

Mr Xenophon says the reports show that Labor has been involved in “a massive deception”.

“On a Federal and State level, the Labor Party has been grossly dishonest,” Mr Xenophon said.

“The so-called cuts to education that Tanya Plibersek, Jay Weatherill and their Labor pranksters are trying to pin on me are just not real.”

Mr Xenophon said the so-called funding shortfall to SA of more than $200 million over the next two years that Mr Weatherill keeps mentioning was contingent on Federal Labor winning Government in 2013.

“This was a Gillard Government initiative. Like Gillard herself, the funding she promised didn’t survive the 2013 election,” he said.

“Jay Weatherill signed a deal with the Gillard Government. All of the money for South Australia was well beyond the Forward Estimates. None of that money was ever accounted for in Budget Estimates.

‘It was an under-the-table, pie-in-the-sky, funny-money deal that was never fully funded. Technically the deal was invalidated when Julia was sacked as PM and it was certainly dead once Labor lost power.”

Mr Xenophon said voters in the SA election were now receiving Labor election material in the post saying “Labor will fight the Liberals’ and Xenophon cuts to SA schools”.

“Firstly, Labor is not fighting anything. SA Education Minister Susan Close accepted the deal last December,” he said.

“Secondly, I cut nothing. What I did was negotiate a better deal than what was on the table to get Gonski 2.0 over the line. We got an extra $4.9 billion for schools, up from the Government’s original proposal of $18.6 billion to $23.5 billion”.

Mr Xenophon said that the Premier’s claim – made at the SA Press Club lunch on Friday February 2 – that Mr Xenophon broke a promise to the teachers’ union to keep to the original Gonski deal was “not correct”.

“I indicated my support for the original proposal but in the end politics is about reality,” he said.

“It’s exactly the same situation faced by Susan Close. She refused to sign the Gonski 2.0 deal last November and changed her mind a few days later.”

“Susan Close and Labor finally had to accept that the deal Mr Weatherill did with Ms Gillard was not binding on the current Federal Government.”

The documents, available from the link below, contain the following quotes:

David Gonski AC (chair): “I'm very pleased to hear that the Turnbull Government has accepted the fundamental recommendations of our 2011 report, and particularly regarding a needs-based situation… I'm very pleased that there is substantial additional money, even over indexation and in the foreseeable future… When we did the 2011 review, our whole concept was that there would be a school’s resource standard which would be nominated and we nominated one, and I'm very pleased that the Turnbull Government has taken that.” (Media conference, May 2, 2017).

Dr Ken Boston (panel member):‘Five years after the release and subsequent emasculation of the Gonski report, Australia has a rare second chance. There are no grounds for opposition to the schools funding bill in principle, and every reason to work collaboratively towards its successful implementation and further refinement in the years ahead. It will be a tragedy if the school funding bill is voted down in the Senate.
The magnitude of what is within reach of being achieved far outweighs any other concern, including the argument that the present amount of funding is insufficient. For the first time, the available funding would be distributed on a sector-blind needs-based principle, using a common assessment tool for individual schools nationally. When Labor next forms government, its promised additional $22 billion would have far greater impact when distributed on the basis of this new funding arrangement, than by being poured into the existing arrangement that has so debilitated Australian education.’’ (Interview with Sydney Morning Herald, June 13, 2017)

Kathryn Greiner (panel member): “In the Rudd, Gillard, Rudd years, as that era was dying out, there were something like 27 different funding programs that were all agreed to, state-by-state, sector by sector, which is what the Minister Birmingham is now trying to undo and create what the Gonski Report originally set out to do, which was to have transparent, accountable, understandable funding… I think we have to recognise that this is a critical time for education right across the country and it's about time that we had a proper funding formula to make sure that those children got the programs that they needed.” (Interview on Lateline June 20, 2017).

More Details:

(2 May 2017)  Press Conference with the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham and Mr David Gonski AC

(18 May 2017) Media Statement from Senator The Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, Senator for South Australia - Opportunity for states to truly deliver on Gonski

(13 June 2017) Sydney Morning Herald Article by Matthew Knott, Education Correspondent - Now or never for school reform, says architect

(20 June 2017) ABC1, Lateline Transcript of Emma Alberici interview with Kathryn Greiner, a panel member of the 2011 Gonski Review into Education Funding commissioned incidentally by the Gillard Labor government


SA-BEST's Education and Learning Policy

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