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Turnbull secures Gonski 2.0 schools win


Malcolm Turnbull has labelled the successful passage of his government’s Gonski 2.0 model through parliament as the biggest-ever reform in federal schools funding.

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The early-morning win was an outstanding result for schools, students, their parents and teachers, the Prime Minister said.

“Now that we’ve got the funding model right, the next step is to make sure we get the great educational outcomes,” he reporters in Canberra today.

That’s down to businessman David Gonski, the original model’s architect, who will conduct a review of the most effective ways to spend the funding.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham, who guided legislation through the Senate and garnered the support of 10 crossbenchers, said all stakeholders could now have confidence in the funding model.

The job now was how it was delivered to schools.

“We put the bucks in place, how do we get the best bang for our bucks?” Senator Birmingham said.

“We expect the states and territories to work with us, agreeing to reforms that lift the quality of our teachers … and access the best products and programs to use in their classroom.”

The coalition won crossbench support for the reforms by shovelling an extra $5 billion into the plan, boosting it to $23.5 billion over the next decade.

Labor and the Greens voted against the legislation, even though the minor party was responsible for many of the changes to the Government’s initial Bill.

After clearing the Senate, the amended Bill received its final tick of approval in the lower house about 2am today.

Former education minister Christopher Pyne described the package as a terrific reform.

“It will end decades of arguments about the school funding wars,” he told the Nine Network.

Labor has already vowed to fight against the package all the way until the next election and to restore every dollar cut by the coalition.

“The Government has adopted the rhetoric, but not the investment,” opposition frontbencher Anthony Albanese said.

“That’s why we will continue to argue for more funding for schools, particularly for needy schools.”

The Gonski 2.0 package will ensure underfunded schools reach funding targets in six years instead of 10 and $50 million will be spent on a transition fund for Catholic and independent schools over 12 months.

The Government also agreed to a new watchdog conducting a review of the schooling resource standard, which is the basis of the new needs-based funding model, and a guarantee the states won’t withdraw their funding as more federal money flows through.

The reviews can address whether the commonwealth, states, territories or authorities are not distributing funding on a needs basis, or whether schools are being over or underfunded.

Outgoing Liberal senator Chris Back, who had threatened to vote against the package, climbed aboard after the minister agreed to extend existing arrangements for Catholic and independent schools for a year.


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