Prime Minister Julia Gillard is appealing directly to Australia's mining bosses to help get her new education plan funded.
In Western Australia yesterday, Ms Gillard continued spruiking her intention to broadly embrace the Gonski review on education funding, but she insisted the $6.5 billion price tag won't be completely worn by the federal government.
Speaking at an Association of Mining and Exploration Companies conference in Perth, the Prime Minister said the resources sector should be lobbying state and territory leaders to ensure they fund their share.
''The mining industry knows a thing or two about lobbying,'' she said. ''Let's say you can be very influential when you get together.
''So use that tremendous organising power to say to the premiers and chief ministers 'Get on board with the national plan for school improvement'.''
Federal schools minister Peter Garrett has urged his state counterparts to listen to NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli when they meet on Friday.
Premiers from Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia have criticised the plans and demanded the commonwealth stump up most of the $6.5 billion annual bill.
But Mr Piccoli says he likes the Gonski model and will co-operate during negotiations. ''I'm not quite sure what the problem is,'' he told ABC radio yesterday.
''They've put no money on the table, they've asked us to put no money on the table, we haven't seen any legislation - what is there to actually say no to yet?''
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said her government would ''welcome and accept the challenge put by the Prime Minister'', and South Australian Education Minister Grace Portolesi and Tasmanian Education and Skills Minister Nick McKim said they would work with the government on the plan.
Ms Gillard said the nation's education system was vital to the success of the resources sector because the skilled workforce needed to keep the mining boom going relied on school funding reform.
''Nothing should keep a leader, indeed a mining executive, awake at night more than improving the quality of education in our country,'' she said.
The Prime Minister has also embarked on a round of one-on-one talks with the premiers about developing new funding arrangements, with federal and state education ministers also set to meet this week over the issue.
But she has not said how she wants the funding to be split between the states and the Commonwealth, saying only that the states must pay their fair share.
Liberal premiers are far from on board, a number coming out yesterday to criticise the federal government's tactics over Gonski.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman described Ms Gillard's approach as a ''very aggressive'' political strategy.
''It's like someone bursting into a bar and shouting at the top of their voice 'Hey everybody should get a drink' and then goes 'Oh well, look, I want you to pay for your own drinks first','' he said.
WA Premier Colin Barnett said he would not allow school funding from his state to be sent to other states and he would never hand over control of WA schools to the federal government.
Ms Gillard has not accepted a Gonski recommendation to set up a single national body to oversee new funding arrangements.
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott criticised the Prime Minister for delivering few details about how she wanted the funding reform to work and cautioned voters and the state leaders to be wary.
''There's no concrete funding, there's no specific timetable, there's no detail,'' Mr Abbott said.
''She is all boast and no delivery.''
with Bianca Hall