Thursday, April 18, 2013

Newmania: Gonski

We have to talk about Gonski. We have to talk about what is happening to prepare the next generation for life. We have to talk about priorities.

We have to talk about King Campbell.

For reasons that I can’t begin to understand, King Campbell and his band of confused, overwhelmed ministers are planning to refuse $3.8 billion dollars from the federal government because Queensland can’t afford the $1.3 billion dollar state contribution that would be required under the Gonski reform plan.

Newmania’s Chancellor of the Money Bags, Tim Nicholls says that he’s already committed $835 million dollars of extra funding to education. By my calculations, that leaves just $465 million dollars to find. I was educated in New South Wales, so I did that calculation in my head.

In any case, Chancellor Money Bags will tell you that $465 million dollars is a whole lotta money, that would buy 465 hospital beds, almost 6,000 teachers or 9+ primary schools. It’s a trade-off. He says. I did those calculations in my head, too.

Here’s the reality: the Newmanian Government has decided that in a battle between a $5.1billion dollar investment in school education, including $3.8 billion of new federal government money, and $465 million of existing funds, the sane choice is to take the money we already have, rather than the gift we so badly need.

We need to improve education in this state. Last year, Newmanian students lagged behind the national average, and in some areas, behind minimum standards in NAPLAN testing. 

Education-wallah John-Paul thinks that it’s a minor detail and was able to find a lot of excuses for why our kids aren’t performing as well as they should. I’m sure Western Australia would like to know about our decentralised jusirdiction, and both Sydney and Melbourne will be fascinated by our diverse cultural mix.

In fairness, the NAPLAN results for Newmania had improved in many categories; we beat the Northern Territory…possibly because Newmanians don’t subject their children to the NT News each day...but that's for another day.

Again, as always, we must go back to the policy documents the LNP released and campaigned on prior to the last election. Unfortunately, the LNP has removed that document from their website, and basically reworked their entire website for the federal election five months from now. Fair enough too: Newmania has already made its mistake. If nothing else, may it serve as an example to others.

Back to the LNP website, though, and you’ll see, under Policies, a whole bunch of airy-fairy feel-good words that almost everyone of any political persuasion would have trouble ignoring:

In our view, government should achieve:

•A just and humane society, where those who cannot provide for themselves can live in dignity

•The family as the primary institution for fostering the values on which a cohesive society is built

•Equal opportunity for all Queenslanders in a tolerant and diverse society without exploitation

•The encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice

•Preserving Australia’s natural beauty and the environment for future generations

•A spirit of patriotism in which all Australians are united in the common service of their country and accept the necessity of defending their nation in times of crisis or adversity

•A secure environment in which Australia is safe from aggression and plays its part in world security in defence of peace

Actually, the second dot point is a problem for me, but the rest of them are appropriately vague, warm and hairy. I’ve highlighted the fourth dot point, as it’s the only one that deals with education.

“The encouragement and facilitation of wealth…” the document says. I’d expect to see King Campbell running up the hill towards Caaanbra’s Parliament House, arms outstretched in fanatical encouragement of the fortune Prime Minister Gillard is offering. Okay, so the sticking point might mean that Chancellor Money Bags needs to do some fancy facilitation with $465 million to capture the prize. It’s worth it, isn’t it? Newmania’s kids are worth it, aren’t they?

Well, no, apparently they’re not.

The entire Education Spend in the last state budget was $10.7 billion. The Federal Government is offering to increase that by $3.8 billion, and we’re quibbling over $465 million. Excluding Gonski funding from the Federal Government, that’s 4.35% of the education budget. (I needed the calculator for that one.)

Put it another way: King Campbell is knocking back the opportunity to increase the state’s funding for education by 35.5% because it might cost him 4.35% of the original education budget.

Logic like this is why Newmania needs Gonski.

(And if you’re still not convinced, listen to him not answer Steve Austin’s questions on 612ABC Brisbane this morning!)

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