Today the Government introduced its Gonski bill to Parliament. It’s still to be voted on in the Senate but, as a Greens supporter, I want to give you our update on this legislation.
The first piece of news I want to share with you is that the Greens will be voting against the Government’s bill. We are taking this course of action because the government has failed to end the special deals which have plagued schools funding for years.
Regrettably, this afternoon the Government cut deals with the Senate cross-bench and is rushing this bill through Parliament before we know all the details. But what we do know is that the government knocked back our request to provide additional funding for schoolkids with disabilities and, instead, carved out significant money for the Catholic sector.
This is disappointing because, until today, our discussions with Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Birmingham have been productive. In fact, it’s thanks to the Greens working constructively with the crossbench and the government that the following significant improvements were made to the bill:
An extra $5 billion in funding for underfunded schools;
The Independent Schools Resourcing Body to monitor funding arrangements; and
A mechanism that ensures states and territories meet benchmarks for their own funding as a condition of receiving Commonwealth funding.
We will not settle for second best where Australian kids and our neediest public schools are concerned. As this legislation continues to be debated in the Senate, the Greens will move amendments that improve the bill, but as a whole we cannot support this legislation. We will continue to campaign for more money to be made available to our neediest public schools and for an end to these anti-Gonski special deals.