NSW govt takes swipe at Pyne over funding
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has taken a swipe at federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, saying he is acting like someone in opposition.
Mr Pyne has raised the ire of states and territories who are calling on him to deliver on the previous Labor government’s so-called Gonski reforms.
But the new coalition minister has signalled he wants to set up a revised national school funding model.
Mr O’Farrell hit out at Mr Pyne for the way he had handled the issue.
“In all my years in politics I have worked out that it is best to have respectful discussions and consultation in private, not through the media,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
“Secondly, when you move into government you have to stop behaving like an opposition.
“This issue has escalated because of the poor way in which it has been handled and that is not acceptable when we are talking about the education of future generations of Australians.”
Mr O’Farrell said he wrote to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday expressing his concerns and seeking assurances, but he had not heard back.
“I continue to be concerned in the way in which the federal education minister … is dictating this debate through the media and not doing what any other reasonable minister, state or federal would do, which is pick up the phone and explain what the hell is going on.”
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said Mr Pyne had called him before the federal election, describing the coalition’s stance on Labor’s schools funding policy as a “unity ticket”.
“I understand that is: you keep the model the same, the funding the same,” Mr Piccoli told reporters.
“I expect him to honour that promise.”
While next year’s funding was safe, he said Mr Pyne had placed into question future budgets.
Describing it as a “body-blow for education”, Mr Piccoli said the school sector was unanimous in its favour of a needs-based funding model.
“He (Mr Pyne) must be the only person in Australia who thinks the SES (Socio-Economic Status) model is a good model. The Gonski panel said `No’, if you walk into any school in NSW every teacher and principal would say `No’.”
Mr O’Farrell said he expected further details following a ministerial meeting on Friday, but warned NSW would not “settle for less”.
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson said the federal government had “perpetrated a massive deceit on the people of NSW”.
“Mr O’Farrell knew all along his Liberal colleagues were wobbly on Gonski and that this funding deal was under threat,” he said in a statement.
“Barry O’Farrell’s colleagues clearly knew they were dealing with a soft touch in Macquarie Street and could rip up agreements with him at will.”