Gonski shoud be a priority

Where are the outcries?

Not greyhounds, not council amalgamations, not adler shotguns, not a myriad of other issues we are commonly hearing about from our state and federal politicians.

NONE of these issues are what should be of the greatest concern to people in our region now.

So, what should be our greatest concern?

Funding for education through the “Gonski” model is the issue that will, from next year for many years to come, affect our region the most.

And why?

The Gonski funding model for education is based on the neediest schools receiving the greater share of education funding.

This model was recommended after considerable investigation by an independent committee headed by David Gonski.

In the leadup to the federal election in 2013 the prime minister Julia Gillard pledged to support the model.

The opposition leader Tony Abbott agreed to match the government’s pledge.

In the next federal budget to be handed down in May a decision will be announced by the government on whether it will continue to support the model.

All indications are that it will not.

All indications are that it will revert to some hybrid method of funding which will be vulnerable to political interference.

All indications are that the government will renege on Abbott’s pledge.

One of the critical aspects of the Gonski model is that it is relatively free from government interference.

We are in danger of losing this very important criteria for funding of education.

The former state minister for education Adrian Piccoli was an avid supporter of the Gonski model.

Mr Piccoli is a Nationals member of the state government.

He was replaced recently as education minister.

It is hoped that the new minister Rob Stokes will be just as strong an advocate for Gonski, effectively opposing changes to the model.

So why is Gonski especially important to this region?

Well, apart from being the fairest way of education funding, it is important for our area because the federal electorate of Parkes, of which we are part, was the recipient of the greatest amount of funding of any electorate in NSW for the years 2014-2017 (Sydney Morning Herald January 21st).

Our electorate received $29.62 million over that period.

The adjoining electorate of New England received the second highest amount in the period with $20.83 million.

Our federal representative is Nationals’ Mark Coulton. The New England member is Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Have we heard publicly anything from either of these members?

Well I certainly haven’t. Why not?

Education of our children is critical to the development of our communities. We can survive not having greyhounds.

We can survive council amalgamations and we can certainly survive not having more freedoms on the use of adler shotguns but our children are our future. Our children need equality of education.

Our region must not suffer any decrease in education funding.

My question to Mark Coulton and Barnaby Joyce is this: “If the government attempts to change the Gonski model of education funding, will you cross the floor and vote for the children in your electorate or will you simply toe the party line and sell out your community?”

If other people feel that our children’s education should be protected, then please contact Mark Coulton and Barnaby Joyce and demand that they vote for our children and maintain the Gonski model.

Pressure also needs to be placed on our state members Kevin Humphries, Kevin Anderson and Adam Marshall to continue the support shown by Adrian Piccoli for Gonski.

Let’s hear more public statements from these members supporting the Gonski model.

Our communities also need local councils, chambers of commerce, school P and Cs, businesses, Nationals branches, service clubs etc writing letters to our federal members putting pressure on them to support the funding of education per the Gonski model.

In all probability, there will be some reply to this letter from parliamentary members about being able to afford funding, about the budget crisis etc etc.

Rubbish, all their spin.

It is about priorities. $50 billion to build submarines in Australia but not enough money to properly fund our children’s education.

Billions in proposed tax cuts to companies but not enough money to properly fund our children’s education. Utter rubbish.

And some final interesting facts disclosed in the SMH article.

The electorate in NSW that received the least amount of funding under the Gonski model in 2014-2017 was Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate, with $2.44 million.

The treasurer Scott Morrison’s electorate of Cook received seventh lowest amount with $4.46 million while Tony Abbott’s Warringah came in at ninth lowest with $4.85 million.

There are forty-seven federal electorates in NSW.

You would expect any change in the way education funding is distributed would probably increase the funding to the first, seventh and ninth lowest currently funded electorates and decrease the funding to the highest and second highest funded electorates.

Gonski funds schools based on need not on a political bias. Let’s keep it that way.

Ross Gleeson



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