States' 'argy-bargy' won't stop Gonski: PM
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she has the political will to secure the Gonski education reforms, despite ''argy bargy'' from the states over the proposed changes to schools funding.
The funding overhaul calls for the states, territories and Commonwealth combined to provide an extra $6.5 billion a year for schools.
States should know within weeks how much more the federal government expects them to pay.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard visits Kingsford Smith Primary School in Canberra. She says she has the political will to see the Gonski school funding reforms through. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
But many have been wary, saying they didn't know if they could sign up to the plan before finding out how much they were expected to pay.
Victoria announced on Saturday that it would go it alone on school funding reform, saying it could deliver better outcomes than the Commonwealth's one-size-fits-all approach.
Western Australia and Queensland have also expressed doubts about the Gillard government's plan for national school improvement.
On Monday, while visiting a Canberra primary school, Ms Gillard said she had seen the reports about Victoria, WA and Queensland.
''First and foremost I'd remind everybody involved, we're the adults, we're the ones with the responsibility for change . . . I'm determined to make sure that happens,'' she said.
The Prime Minister said that Premier Ted Baillieu's proposal to invest $400 million in Victorian schools was ''not good enough''.
''We've seen Victoria float [this] proposal after having taken $550 million out of schools in cuts.''
She added that it was inevitable, when introducing the biggest reform to education for 40 years, that there was some ''argy bargy and carry on around it''.
Ms Gillard said that there was ''intensive work'' going on behind the scenes, between officials on the reforms and that she hoped the negotiations would be concluded at a Council of Australian Governments Meeting in April.
But she said that if some states were ''still holding out'' at COAG, the federal government would ''fight on''.
''I've got the political will to do it and we will fight through to get it done,'' Mr Gillard said.
She said the government had not run out of time to get the reforms done, with only seven sitting weeks left before the September 14 election (not including this Senate-only sitting week) – and school funding agreements running out at the end of 2013.
Ms Gillard said that data out of the 2011 Census was needed to update the work and models for consideration.
''There is no one model that has got the tick yet,'' she said.
Federal Schools Minister Peter Garrett said on Monday that he expected to be able to let the states committed to the reforms know what would be involved shortly.
''In this week and the weeks ahead we will be sitting down and specifically going through . . . both what we believe are the necessary components of the plan and also the likely offers that will come on to the table for us to pay our fair share,'' he told ABC Radio.
He said the Commonwealth would seek the same from the states in return.
But he declined to say how much extra money would go to schools next year, when the new Gonski system comes into effect.
It is understood it will take several years for the full $6.5 billion annual boost to go to schools.
''What the actual quantum figure will be will be a matter for us to determine in our negotiations with the states,'' Mr Garrett said.