Peter Garrett

Peter Garrett

THE GILLARD Government has accused Victoria of playing "pass the parcel" with schools, warning that $1.2billion was now at risk after Ted Baillieu announced his own plans for education funding in defiance of Canberra.

In the latest sign of the diminishing relationship between the state and federal governments, Victoria has decided to go it alone on the Gonski school funding reforms, arguing that the Commonwealth's model would not deliver better results for students.

Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett slammed Mr Baillieu for trying to "pick and choose" how schools are funded in a bid to mask his own government's education cuts.

"After two budgets which saw $550 million cut in education, now the Baillieu Liberal Government wants to pass the parcel to the Commonwealth government and produce funds to support their cuts. It's simply not on," a furious Mr Garrett said this morning.

"Today the Premier and his education minister are producing a new pick-and-choose funding model, which is less than the amount that would be anticipated under the Gonski reforms, expecting the Commonwealth to pick up part of the tab. And they haven't even bothered to discuss it with the Commonwealth."

Victoria's plan would require about $400 million in state and federal funding, and Victoria wants it be phased in from despite next year – despite not yet having any funding commitments from the Commonwealth.

The proposal is based on three components: increased equity funding for all schools; more consistent disability funding; and a proposed voucher system where money would flow to disadvantaged students, regardless of what type of school they attend. However, Mr Garrett described the announcement as an "unnecessary distraction" and accused Mr Baillieu of playing politics. With $1.2billion in federal funding earmarked for Victoria over the next five years, he also warned that this funding had now been placed at risk.

"The fact is that by picking and choosing this model, and walking away, it seems, from a national plan for school improvement, Premier Baillieu is putting at risk potential long term additional support for Victorian students that our plan would deliver," Mr Garrett said.

Mr Baillieu said Victoria had chosen to go it alone after receiving very little information from the Commonwealth about its own plans, despite repeated requests. He said the state's funding proposal was affordable, sustainable and in line with the needs-based principals of Gonski review.

Opposition federal education spokesman Christopher Pyne welcomed the proposal, and said the federal coalition would "look closely at the details".

“The Baillieu Government has now responded to the Gonski review and offered a detailed proposal with meat on the bones, something Federal Labor hasn't managed after five and a half years of promises,” Mr Pyne said.

But Mr Garrett said voucher system would not work, arguing that extra resourcing for students with disabilities should go into schools, teachers and modified equipment to assist pupils. Under the Gonski model, there would also be a recurrent loading for students with disabilities, he added.