Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown today urged the Gillard government to provide a timeline for the new funding formula for schools and the Commonwealth to deliver a clear commitment to provide the bulk of the funding, starting with a down-payment in the May budget.
"The Prime Minister has said there is disadvantage in our schooling system. This will continue if we don't act now," Senator Brown said in Canberra.
Senator Brown also challenged the Coalition to reveal its schools funding plan. "If it is true, as reported, that the Coalition opposes the Gonski recommendations then every school needs to know that they are on the Coalition hit list.
"The Gonski Review recommends $5 billion, although billions more would be needed to catch up with the US, UK, New Zealand or Norway. The government needs to make a down-payment in this year's budget. A high-quality, equitable, well-funded public education system striving for excellence should be the goal.
"Yes there needs to be consultation with the states and territories, but the federal government should underwrite the $5 billion recommended by the experts. In contrast to these recommendations for increased investment, an Abbott-led government would cut $2.8 billion in funding from our schools.
"There are more details to work out but we need a timeline for the new funding formula from the federal government. Parents, children, teachers and principals need to adjust and plan for the new funding model well before the 1 January 2014 deadline.
"It is incumbent upon this government, after an 18-month review process which received more than 7000 submissions, to now act and ensure legislation to transform the way our schools are funded is passed by the parliament this year. We cannot risk falling even further behind our OECD peers in our commitment to education," Senator Brown said.