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Jun 6, 2013

Gonski ‘punishment’ a warning against local government recognition

The gillard government in its determination to push the Gonski ‘reforms’ onto the reluctant states has come out with the whips and spurs in order to force them to comply.  States that refuse to sign up to the federal government’s model will be subjected to lower funding to those that (to use a Johism), put their feet on the sticky paper.
Under the federal proposal, all problems with the education system is the same in all states and should be solved by the same solution nationwide, even though some premiers have different solutions. The idea that the feds can play favorites and that funding can be denied to states that want to try different ideas tailored to their own circumstances is outrageous: 
Legislation introduced in parliament yesterday reveals schools in states that fail to adopt the Gonski funding reforms will be locked into a lower rate of increased funding to ensure they do not receive a windfall from the extra spending in other states. 
Amendments to the Australian Education Bill introduced by School Education Minister Peter Garrett also contain the detailed funding formula under the new model, including the base payment per student and the calculations for the loadings based on the disadvantage of individual students. 
By including the formula and the six-year transition arrangements for schools, including the different levels of indexation, the government is attempting to "Abbott-proof" its education reforms. … 
… Western Australia has signalled it will not sign up to the Gonski reforms, while Ms Gillard has become embroiled in a public brawl with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman over the negotiations, calling on him yesterday to follow the lead of NSW. …
 This bodes badly for the recognition of local governments in the constitution which needs to be rejected.  Allowing direct funding of councils will subject them to the same bully-boy tactics being used here.
Councils are already subject to far too much regulation by state governments, effectively taking much of their control out of the hands of ratepayers to the point where they are in danger of becoming little more than local branches of the states they are part of. This will add a higher level of control, further removed from residents.
While the federal government promotes Gonski like NDIS as Labor benevolence to the states, the reality is that it requires massive additional spending by state governments, most of which are still struggling to recover from years of overspending by Labor governments.  It is likely that councils will be subjected to the same conditions requiring greater borrowings or higher rates for projects that are the pipe dreams of federal government, rather than those of local residents.
Competitive federalism where state and local governments are free to do as much or little as needed to meet the requirements of electors, would be better than the current top down model.

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