NATIONAL Party candidate for New England Barnaby Joyce has branded NSW Teachers’ Federation’s claims of massive Coalition cuts to Gonski funding as “absolute nonsense”.
The federation ran full-page advertisements in metropolitan newspapers on Sunday, claiming Tony Abbott would cut two-thirds of Gonski education reforms funding, and outlining the subsequent cuts electorate by electorate.
Mr Joyce and member for Parkes Mark Coulton said claims New England would lose $45.6 million and Parkes $57.9 million – the largest cut – were completely false.
They said the projected losses were based on comparing Labor’s six-year budget commitment to the Coalition’s four-year estimates.
Mr Joyce and Mr Coulton said the Coalition and Labor had the same funding commitments to the Gonski program over the next four years.
“We’re prepared to commit the same amount of funding to Gonski funding as the Labor Party could,” Mr Coulton said.
NSW Teachers’ Federation country organiser Marty Wheatley said the Gonski funding was the biggest issue for schools in the federal election.
He said the organisation had been pushing for six-year costings from both major parties, and the estimates in the advertisement were calculated from federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations figures.
“The Gonski plan is the first major overhaul of the education system,” Mr Wheatley said.
“The Coalition is guaranteeing less than a third of the current federal government proposed Gonski plan.
“Over the next four years the Coalition has guaranteed a $2.8 billion injection into schools, while Labor is guaranteeing $10 billion over six years.”
Mr Joyce said it was unfair to compare the two parties’ costings over different time periods.
“We have budgeted, in the forward estimates, exactly the same as what the Labor party has,” Mr Joyce said.
“Our costings are the same as Labor’s over the next four years.”
Mr Coulton said NSW Teachers’ Federation had been “very irresponsible” throughout the campaign.
“They’re doing it just to support the Labor Party, not to support education,” he said.
“The NSW Teachers’ Federation would be better off spending its time looking at improving the education standards of the students they teach, rather than playing politics leading up to a federal election.”
Projected cuts for NSW electorates, according to the NSW Teachers’ Federation:
Parkes - $57.9million
McMahon - $47.9m
Fowler - $45.8m
New England - $45.6m
Macarthur - $44.7m
Chifley - $44.5m
Riverina - $43.2m
Hunter - $43.1m