We don’t know who will form Government after Saturday’s election – but we know that the election has delivered no mandate for scrapping Gonski funding.
Polling shows that Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to end needs-based Gonski funding to schools after 2017 was clearly a major factor in the Coalition’s drop in support.
Whoever is Prime Minister needs to implement the six years of Gonski funding in full – and the Gonski campaign will keep fighting to make sure that happens.
We know that both Labor and the Greens have committed to funding Gonski in full, and a “wishlist” published by Senator Nick Xenophon also expressed support for Gonski.
Gonski a vote-changer
Gonski was clearly an issue in the election.
Exit polling by SKY News found that 63 per cent of voters rated education as a “very important” issue, only slightly behind health at 72 per cent, and ahead of economic management at 51 per cent.
This backs polling in marginal seats in the final weeks of the campaign which showed voters clearly supported Gonski and backed investing in schools ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to company tax.
Voters supported Gonski by a margin of 61.6 per cent to 17.4 per cent, and 63.6 per cent preferred it to company tax cuts.
We have already had winning Labor candidates Mike Kelly (Eden-Monaro) and Emma Husar (Lindsay) say that support for Gonski was one of the key issues that got them elected.
Other electorates where the Gonski campaign had a local co-ordinator in place which recorded high swings away from the Coalition include: Gilmore, Dobell, Macquarie, Forde and Longman.
These are regional or outer suburban seats, often with high numbers of low-SES students, where schools are major beneficiaries from targeted Gonski funding, which is already delivering extra programs to help students.
It is also clear that Gonski was an issue in Tasmania where there were huge swings against the Coalition leading to the loss of three seats. Under Malcolm Turnbull’s plan not only would schools miss out on Gonski, but public schools would actually have their funding cut after 2017.
The public has rejected Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to needs-based Gonski schools funding and want whoever forms Government to implement Gonski in full.
Campaign to continue
Everyone who became involved in our campaign - whether you doorknocked, handed out leaflets, held events at your school, or talked to your friends and family about the importance of Gonski - should feel proud of what you’ve done.
The campaign for Gonski funding will continue and we will keep working to ensure our schools get the funding they need.
All political parties and independents should reflect in the next few days on the high levels of support for Gonski and opposition to Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts.
Schools need the full six years of Gonski, which Labor and the Greens have already committed to, to ensure they have the resources they need for all their students.
There is no alternative to Gonski’s needs-based funding model on the table.
The Coalition has said they will renegotiate funding with the States but has not given any details of how the new funding model will work.
This proposal is not backed by a single State and both the Independent and Catholic schools systems also support the full Gonski.
We need politicians to back the evidence-based Gonski model, which sees increases in funding targeted to the most disadvantaged students.
Resources remain vital
Without the final two years of Gonski, many schools will not get the resources they need and their students will miss out on the help they need to achieve at school.
Australia has huge gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged students, and these gaps are widening.
Our pre-Gonski funding system ignored this and delivered some of the biggest increases in funding to schools which needed it the least.
We need the full six years to turn our funding system around and ensure all schools are funded based on need.
The fight for Gonski funding will continue and we want whoever forms government to back the resources our kids need.