Ken Boston endorsement shows Gonski 2.0 should go ahead: Birmingham

Federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, says endorsement from “Dr Ken Boston, another member of the Gonski panel” indicates the funding reform package is sound.

“This is strong endorsement because it stands alongside that of David Gonski; coming from Dr Boston, a former head of government school systems in New South Wales and South Australia, urging the Parliament to pass these reforms.”

“And why have David Gonski, Ken Boston, the Grattan Institute and many others endorsed this model?” the minister continued.

“They’ve done so because it delivers fair, sector-blind, needs-based funding to Australian schools, because it is a truer implementation of the original Gonski report than what Labor put in place.”

“The Coalition Government, the Turnbull Government is implementing true needs-based funding through our legislative reforms. We’re putting $18.6 billion of additional investment into Australian schools, but ensuring that it will be distributed fairly according to need.”

The minister says Ken Boston’s remarks make it “transparently clear that he’s called upon the progressive sides of politics to embrace needs-based school funding as the Turnbull Government is proposing and has before the Parliament.”

The minister has urged Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek “to think again, to recognise that they can support the Turnbull Government’s legislation, deliver needs-based funding for Australian schools and if they want to go to the next election promising ever more spending, then they can do that as well.”

“In essence, Labor could have their cake and eat it too,” the minister told the journalist.

“But the Turnbull Government will work constructively – as we are – with all of the crossbench parties and with the Labor Party if they’re willing to come to the table to implement what David Gonski, Ken Boston and the rest of that panel recommended, which is needs-based funding for Australian schools which address decades of distortions and deals and instead puts in place a fair system for the future.”

Minister, Senator Xenophon this morning has said with sensible compromises we can get it through – regarding the education funding. How much compromising do you think you’ll have to do to get the support of the crossbench?” the journalist asked.

Minister Birmingham replied that the government hadshown ourselves to be a pragmatic government” and was “very pleased to see Senator Xenophon’s positive comments”. He asserted that they demonstrated another impartial voice acknowledging the government’s efforts to establish “sector-blind, needs-based funding”, delivered in the spirit Gonski intended.

SBS reported that former NSW and South Australia education boss Ken Boston, who was also a member of the original Gonski panel, has endorsed the government’s plan.

“There are no grounds for opposition to the schools funding bill in principle, and every reason to work collaboratively towards its successful implementation and further refinement in the years ahead,” Dr Boston told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“It will be a tragedy if the school funding bill is voted down in the Senate.”

The SBS report maintained that Labor is firmly opposed to the bill, arguing it is not needs-based or sector-blind and offers schools $22 billion less than it planned.

Dr Boston, however, says the magnitude of what is within reach outweighs other concerns, including the argument of insufficient funding, the report continued.

“It’s an indictment on (opposition leader) Bill Shorten to have the likes of Ken Boston out there saying this is fair, needs-based funding and the legislation should pass, yet Labor continues to stand against it,” education minister, Simon, Birmingham, told Sky News.

Minister Birmingham remains confident of open minds from the Greens and many of the crossbenchers.

The SBS report stated that “sticking points for the Greens include getting money to the neediest schools faster, making sure the states still do the heavy lifting to boost public schools, and establishing an independent national school resourcing body”.

Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry is a freelance education writer and the former editor of School News, Australia.

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