Teacher unions have splintered over the Turnbull government’s school funding overhaul, with one state branch saying parliament should now support it.
The package, dubbed Gonski 2.0, will give a better deal for public schools in Western Australia compared with the status quo, the State School Teachers’ Union of WA says
That stance is at odds with the national Australian Education Union, which has campaigned strongly against the government’s package.
Branch president Pat Byrne told The West Australian newspaper she agreed with the AEU’s position of opposing legislation in its current form.
But it should pass if it ensured states pay 80 per cent of a set per-student funding amount for public schools.
Under the federal government’s plan, it is guaranteeing public schools 20 per cent of that amount.
Mr Byrne would also be unhappy if the bill failed, saying it offered WA public schools an average 6.8 per cent growth each year compared to the 4.7 per cent in the existing system.
It would also lock in overfunding for many private schools.
“I am not comfortable with that at all,” Ms Byrne said.
Cabinet minister Steve Ciobo said it was no surprise “one of the most leftist unions in this country” was fractured.
“They want to do the right thing but they’re also heavily conflicted by their support for the Labor Party and wanting to do the bidding of the Labor Party,” he told Sky News.
The split may influence the Greens to back the package in the Senate.
The minor party already has won big concessions from the government, including measures that ensure the states meet their funding obligations.
But some of its nine senators are yet to be swayed by the arguments of leader Richard Di Natale and education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young who support an amended package.