Baird offers carrot on Gonski reform funding

TEACHERS have urged New South Wales Premier Mike Baird to stand his ground after he offered a compromise on Gonski funding that would see the reforms happen over four years instead of two.

The Baird Government has been staunch in its calls for the Commonwealth to honour its entire six-year Gonski commitment since former Prime Minister Tony Abbott abandoned plans to fund the final two years in 2014.

The former Federal Labor Government introduced the reforms and the current Labor Opposition has pledged to fund the full six-year agreement.

Now looking for middle ground, Mr Baird has given Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the option of stretching the two outstanding years of needs-based funding over a doubled timeframe.

"The premier was making the point that those involved in the discussion on how to fill the $7 billion gap in health and education funding to 2020 need to proceed in a co-operative and open-minded manner," a spokesman said.

NSW schools stand to lose about $1.27 billion if the final two years of funding are scrapped.

The NSW Teachers Federation, the NSW Secondary Principals' Council and the NSW Primary Principals' Association have penned a joint letter to the Premier calling for him to abandon compromises.

"Premier Baird must reject the temptation to help out a prime minister in electoral trouble who is clearly seeking to shut down Gonski as a public issue ahead of the federal election, just as his predecessor, Tony Abbott, attempted before the last election," it said.

"The students and parents of NSW deserve full Gonski funding and strongly support that outcome.

"As educators, we call on the premier to hold the line and not capitulate to an inferior outcome that would see programs shut down and resources lost."

Shadow education minister Kate Ellis claimed Mr Baird was giving "a helping hand to his Liberal mate, Malcolm Turnbull".

"New reports have confirmed that the NSW Premier has proposed a package of hush money to buy his complacency on the government's cuts to health and education," she said.

"Two prime ministers, two federal education ministers and the government's education policy comes down to this - last-minute deals to buy silence from the states." -APN NEWSDESK



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