As the details of Malcolm Turnbull’s “new” announcement to “stop the arguments” about school funding emerge, it is worth revisiting how we got into this position.
On August 29, days before the 2013 election, Christopher Pyne said ”you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.
By November he was saying the Coalition would stick with the agreed arrangements for 2014 but would introduce a new funding model from 2015.
Mr Pyne declared the Gonski needs-based model a ‘‘shambles’’ and promised to go ‘‘back to the drawing board’’ to create a new system.
Apparently, the model is no longer a shambles but a blueprint for the future.
‘‘Our election policy was that we would support a four-year agreement … we won’t be honouring a six-year agreement,’’ Pyne said. ‘‘There’s no year five or year six in the Coalition’s funding agreement.’’
But now it’s a ten year funding agreement with the vast majority of the funding in the out-years – exactly what the Coalition blasted Labor for.
‘‘I think we’ve had a lot of talk, a lot of conferences, a lot of reports, a lot of analysis of those reports, we’ve had an election campaign, we’ve had election policies from both sides. It’s time for the government to be allowed to get on with the job and that’s exactly what I intend to do,’’ said Pyne.
So now we are to have another report by Gonski on how the extra money should be spent.
Except the “extra” money is about $22 billion less than Labor had budgeted for.
Oh and that federal Department of Education data showing that more than 150 private schools across Australia received funding above their Schooling Resourcing Standard in 2014, has, under intense negotiation with the Independent schools sector, magically reduced to 24 overfunded schools.
So the increase is actually a decrease, the budgetary burden (and benefit) won’t kick in for about five years, independent schools will continue to be overfunded, and we are going to have another Gonski report but it will be Turnbull’s, not Gillard’s.
And that seems to be the whole point of the exercise.