Victoria rejects Gonski offer

Jul 1, 2013 by

Premier Denis Napthine has upped the ante in the battle over school funding.

He has announced he will not sign up to the Gonski reforms unless the Commonwealth commits $7 billion over six years and amends legislation that he says would enable a federal takeover of classrooms.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she was prepared to negotiate in good faith with Dr Napthine, but warned that the terms of any agreement with Victoria would be the same as those signed with NSW, South Australia and the ACT.

Under the federal government’s proposal, an additional $4.2 billion would flow to Victoria’s schools, of which the Commonwealth would contribute 65 per cent and Victoria 35 per cent.

The deal would see annual federal increases in education spending of 4.7 per cent. It would require Victoria to commit to 3 per cent annual indexation and sign up to school improvement reforms including national standards for teachers, the national curriculum and annual performance reviews for teachers.

However Dr Napthine made a counter-proposal of $10.5 billion over six years: Victoria would contribute an extra $3.5 billion if the Commonwealth contributed $7 billion.

He also called for amendments to the Gonski legislation – within minutes of it passing the Senate – to prevent ”bureaucrats in Canberra dictating the day-to-day running of Victorian schools”.

”Victoria emphatically rejects the centralised management approach proposed in the … legislation which passed the Senate,” Dr Napthine said.

Asked about whether legislation could be amended before the federal election, Dr Napthine said: ”I’m not certain how the federal system works on its ability to recall Parliament.”

The Premier said Victoria had made forward projections that would enable it to contribute the extra $3.5 billion regardless of any federal deal. ”That $3.5 billion over the next six years will not jeopardise our AAA credit rating. It is sustainable, it is sensible, indeed it could be described as fiscally conservative,” he said.

Under the Gonski reforms, a base level of funding of $9271 for every primary student and $12,193 would be allocated for every secondary school student – known as the school resource standard – plus loadings for students with a disability, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, indigenous students and small schools.

In a letter to Ms Gillard, Dr Napthine said Victoria would not accept the school resource standard as the benchmark for determining allocations to schools, in part because it relied on data inferior to that used in Victoria’s own needs-based model.

”Under our funding proposal, the independent and Catholic school sectors will also benefit.”

Ms Gillard said she was happy to talk to Dr Napthine but any extra investment must be matched by real reforms in schools in Victoria and funding must be distributed based on student need.

Victoria rejects Gonski offer.

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