A month ago, I wrote a post on Gonski and here’s an update:
- None of the State Premiers except for Barry O’Farrell have signed up to the Gonski reforms.
- Recently, Tony Abbott has stated that he is against the reforms.
- Christopher Pyne’s response is to say to the least, confused. He recently stated O’Farrell was conned although previously stating it was a good deal. Pyne’s counter-offer is a continuation of the existing model which no-one understands. Last year he stated that there was no money for the reforms.
But that is merely focussing on tactics instead of strategy. The reforms and their introduction are a strategic masterstroke for the following reasons:
- They are a clear and understandable reform to educational funding. The Gonski reforms mean that schools will be funded per student with extra to overcome disadvantage. Prior to Gonski, educational funding arrangements in Australia were incomprehensible.
- These reforms have been generally well received. There were protests regarding university funding changes (cutbacks or spending deferrals) made to finance these reforms. There have been some voices of dissent stating Gonski favours the haves over the have nots. But no educational counter revolution has occurred! The streets aren’t full of parents, teachers and students saying No to Gonski!
- Even in the ALP, where public versus private school funding has been a issue for decades, Gonski has laid the issue to rest. Because of Gonski, there will be no more hit lists as per Mark Latham in the 2004 Federal Election campaign.
- Most critically, the reforms have outflanked the LNP premiers, Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne presenting them with an issue that they cannot circumvent.
The LNP Premiers’ Dilemma:
- If the LNP Premiers sign up to Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Worse, they are prevented by the Gonski conditions from making cuts to education spending (already occurring in NSW, Victoria and Queensland). O’Farrell has stated that he is in favour of Gonski on its own merits.
- If the LNP Premiers don’t sign up to Gonski, it automatically (and has now) becomes a Federal and State election issue. Anyone who votes for the Gonski reforms is automatically registering a protest vote against the burgeoning State education spending cuts and the current educational funding model.
Tony Abbott’s and Christopher Pyne’s Dilemma:
- If they agree with Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Even if Abbott had agreed in principle with the Gonski reforms and said they were too expensive, he would still be seen as supporting the centrepiece of the Gillard ALP Government re-election platform.
- If they disagree with Gonski and support the current educational funding model, the current squabbling will worsen as education spending cuts (State and possibly Federal) bite.
- Unfortunately, the position Pyne and Abbott have chosen is to criticise Gonski and state that the present system is better and that topping it up will make it even so. Their response is confusing and unclear.
So why is the title of this article not misleading?
- In time, at least the ALP State Premiers will sign up to the Gonski reforms.
- Gonski is now an election issue because of Abbott’s and the LNP State Premiers’ (except NSW’s O’Farrell) refusal to engage.
- Consequently, the IGiveAGonski grassroots campaign will continue up until September 14th and beyond if there is a change of Government.
- Abbott, Pyne and the LNP Premiers alternative to Gonski is the existing incomprehensible funding model and spending cuts which is no policy at all.
This issue is not going away. And it hasn’t!