Federal Member for Macquarie Louise Markus would rip $34 million out of schools in her electorate because of the Coalition’s refusal to fund the Gonski education reforms for the full six years, a rally heard last week.
But the accusation attracted a strong counter-attack from the Liberal MP as the Coalition’s commitment to Gonksi came under fire at the election event at Hawkesbury Heights Lookout on Thursday.
“The Coalition, who are proffering to be the alternative government in just a matter of weeks, are refusing to guarantee the full six year Gonski deal. In the Mountains and Hawkesbury you’re looking at $34 million that Louise Markus will strip out of the Gonski deal if they do not shift their position to make a commitment to guaranteeing the full Gonksi,” NSW Teachers Federation organiser Michael De Wall said.
About 30 teachers and parents attended the rally at the border between the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury parts of the Macquarie electorate.
Speakers urged Mrs Markus to “go the full Gonski” instead of promising to fund only the first four years of the plan.
Labor candidate for Macquarie Susan Templeman said it was deceptive to say there was no difference between the Coalition and Labor on the Gonski reforms.
“I am incensed every time I hear Louise Markus say ‘we are on a unity ticket’ [on Gonski]. It is a nonsense and the figures show it,” she said.
“In this electorate we are talking about the difference under Labor and the Liberals of $34 million — $34 million that won’t go to Windsor High School, it won’t go to Wentworth Falls Public, it won’t go to all the W’s in between — Warrimoo and Winmalee. These are all schools that desperately need the extra funding so that you as teachers are better supported and can do even more than you already do for our students.”
Mrs Markus turned the attack back on the NSW Teachers Federation, accusing them of being “caught out making blatantly dishonest claims on the future of school funding in New South Wales”.
“Tony Abbott and the Coalition have confirmed that they will honour the agreement reached with the NSW Government and commit the same amount of federal school funding as the government over the forward estimates. Every single school in Macquarie will receive, dollar for dollar, the same federal funding over the next four years whether there is a Liberal or Labor Government after September 7,” she said in a statement.
“Any claims made by Labor or the union in relation to funding beyond this time cannot be believed, as they relate to money that does not exist. Any such funding is not in the budget as it is beyond the forward estimates.”
But Mr De Wall said the Coalition’s justification for not committing Gonski funding for six years did not stack up.
“She (Mrs Markus) says that any claims to funding for schools beyond four years ‘cannot be believed’, and yet she wants us to believe that an Abbott Government would be committed to an inter-generational, multi-billion dollar National Disability Insurance Scheme and a 10 year plan for roads now worth $18.5 billion,” he said.
“All our public school communities want is the full six-year Gonski deal. Plain and simple.”