Originally published on EducationHQ (July 11 2016)
Post-election polling suggests a majority of Australians back the Gonski needs-based funding model, as pressure heats up on a newly victorious Turnbull government to fund the final two years of the scheme.
The Australia Institute found close to two thirds of the 2875 voters interviewed, or 64 per cent, wanted Gonski school funding retained, with only 23 per cent favouring a cut to spending.
Education became a decisive battleground early on in this year’s federal election, with issues around Gonski and private vs public school spending coming to the fore.
While both Labor and the Coalition have committed to fund the first four years of the Gonski program, only Labor has pledged the $4.6 billion needed for the final two years.
The Coalition has instead offered $1.2 billion towards years five and six, along with a new set of conditions for schools in line with its Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes program.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) said it would be writing to all independent and minor party crossbench MPs in the new parliament, calling on them to “back the full six years of Gonski funding”.
AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe said the election result showed the public had “rejected” cuts by the Coalition to Gonski and Malcolm Turnbull now had no mandate to end the funding after 2017.
“The Coalition’s refusal to fund public services that families rely on has come back to haunt them,” Haythorpe said. “We have … seen big swings against the Coalition in … seats where the AEU has had local campaign coordinators on the ground.”
The Australia Institute poll also showed strong support for negotiations with the crossbench in order to form government.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.