Marking National Public Education Day, NSW Teachers Federation president, Maurie Mulheron issued a blunt message to the Federal Government:
Ignore Gonski at your peril.
Comparing the hotly-debated school funding model to Medicare, Mulheron warned that “Gonski is to education what Medicare is to health”.
“We cannot allow this moment in history to pass and say ‘we tried our best’,” Mulheron told The Educator.
“Just as no fair-minded Australian would ever say Medicare should be abandoned or repealed, we’ve got to get Gonski to the same level. That’s our job and we’ll do it. We have no choice.”
Mulheron warned the alternative was to see the Australian school system become one of the most inequitable in the OECD.
“We’re already fast approaching that. Australia is now getting the reputation as having one of the most inequitable school systems on the planet. It’s got nothing to do with teacher quality and everything to do with a lack of resources,” Mulheron said.
The NSWTF will launch a massive community-based campaign from Term 3 onwards, when it will contribute “significant resources” to targeted political seats across the country, particularly in NSW.
“There has been a game change in this country with school funding, and it’s called Gonski,” Mulheron said.
“We’ll be taking this message to the community: either we get bi-partisan support for Gonski, or we’ll make it clear to the community that we need a change of government.”
Mulheron added this would mean having to make sure the ALP remains committed to the Gonski model.
“The NSW upper house has passed a motion unanimously condemning the Abbott Government for its failure to fund the full six years of Gonski,” Mulheron said,
“When we have Liberals and Nationals joining with Labor and the Greens, it’s clear that this is an issue above party politics. They can see that the Federal Government is out of step with public sentiment.”
Mulheron pointed to the I Give a Gonski website, which he said has nearly 140,000 subscribers.
The website is now one of the largest – if not the largest – social media campaigns in Australia,” Mulheron said.
“We’ve also got a Facebook site with over 70,000 subscribers. The analytics of those websites show the majority of those subscribers are not teachers, but members of the community.
“For politicians to ignore this, they ignore it at their peril.”