During a visit to Tasmania Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Federal Government is considering funding the final two years of Gonski education reforms.
On his way to a radio interview in the town of Launceston the Prime Minister was confronted by protesters calling for the government to fund the full six-year implementation of Gonski funding which spurred ABC Northern Tasmania’s Leon Compton to ask whether the Government would commit.
“Well this is all being considered by the Government in the context of a very tight Budget,” Turnbull said. “Let me just say to you that the Federal support for education right across the board is increasing and it will increase in the future.
“But you know the challenge is managing it in an affordable way. So I don’t want to pre-empt what [Education Minister] Simon Birmingham would say on that but I would encourage you to talk to Simon, the new Education Minister about this and you know all I can say to you that, look my life was transformed by great teachers.
“I have got a lifelong commitment to education and supporting education and supporting means tested scholarships and things of that kind. David Gonski, by the way, happens to be a very old friend of mine, we have literally known each other, and I regret to say nearly fifty years, which is a bit frightening.
“But what David was saying was that we need more resources into education and it needs to be needs-based and you know, everybody agrees on that. The question, the debate is about how you address those needs and how do you ensure that money goes to where it is most needed and where it is going to have the most effect and how do you get the best educational outcome bang for the taxpayer buck? That is the question.”
The new Prime Minister’s slant is much different from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s blanket refusal to consider extending Gonski funding, giving the education sector renewed hope that the importance of needs-based funding will be recognised by the Federal Government.
The Australian Education Union (AEU), which has previously committed to make The Gonski Review and needs-based funding one of the key issues in the 2016 election, has welcomed new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement.
“The Federal Government must deliver the full six years of Gonski funding and we will be waiting to see how the new PM, and Education Minister Simon Birmingham, progress this issue,” Federal AEU President Correna Haythorpe said.
“Schools that have got Gonski funding are already using it to make a positive difference for their students.”