Today the Gillard Labor Government refused to provide further detail on its plans to reform school funding despite sitting on the Gonski Report on school funding since late last year.
Victoria's Education Minister Martin Dixon has criticised the Gillard Government's lack of transparency over what is potentially the single largest reform to education funding in almost 40 years.
"At a press conference on 21 February 2012 Prime Minster Gillard stated: "... we are getting straight into it and we will be driving it intensively over coming months... and it will be work involving our State and Territory colleagues...". This commitment has not been met and key threshold issues, such as indexation and transition arrangements, remain unclear." Mr Dixon said.
"Last week the federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon said the Premiers would be discussing the Gonski Report's recommendations with the Prime Minister at COAG, when it was never on the COAG agenda," Mr Dixon said.
"At today's Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) meeting the Gonski Report was listed as a 'verbal update' only from Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett, preventing the opportunity for meaningful discussion on school funding.
"If this is indeed the great reform it is meant to be, then the Prime Minister is going about it in the wrong way. States and Territories are responsible for schooling and yet, the Gillard Labor Government's belief that we deserve little more than a 'verbal update' only shows its contempt," Martin Dixon said.
While Mr Dixon reiterated his commitment to work constructively with the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to secure the best possible funding outcomes, he has called on the Gillard Government to set out a clear program for discussing and agreeing to reform, a request that has been refused.
Victoria has called for:
- Assurances that no school would be worse off;
- 30 days to consider draft legislation for school funding arrangements for 2013 and beyond, which is due to be introduced before the end of this year;
- That updates on the Commonwealth's plans for school funding be provided in writing; and
- That matters relating to school funding be negotiated by Education Ministers.
"The Victorian Coalition Government, as we have said from the outset, is committed to engaging on important reform issues including school funding, but we need to do so on the basis of transparency and genuine dialogue and consultation," Mr Dixon said.