“We will fight this as an education election,” Bill Shorten pledged at the NSW Teachers Federation Council meeting on May 7, confirming Labor would invest $37.3 billion over the next 10 years to guarantee every school in the country receives fair funding on the basis of need.
“We will deliver on the Gonski promise – and go beyond,” Mr Shorten said, making his campaign mark the day before Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the election.
“This is the kind of national leadership that we need at this point,” Federation President Maurie Mulheron responded. “We welcome Labor’s funding promise. We now have two parties that have committed to Gonski going into this election — Labor and the Greens.”
Mr Shorten reinforced his pledge as he launched the report, Getting Results: Gonski Funding in Australian Schools, thanking Barrack Heights PS principal Sarah Rudling and Merrylands HS principal Lila Mularcyk for their vivid and powerful illustration of how tangible improvements in student learning came from Gonski funding.
Looking up at the teacher delegates listening intently to him at the Federation Auditorium, Mr Shorten emphasised that he was the son of a teacher.
“I know how hard the work is and I watch the teachers do the same with my children,” he said.
“I want the best education for my kids so why on earth wouldn’t we want the best education for all our kids?
“The job of teachers is bitterly under-appreciated in the national political debate,” Mr Shorten said. “Teachers carry so much of the community’s expectations.”
The Opposition Leader recognised that teachers have to engage not only intellectually and physically but emotionally with schoolchildren and should receive more respect in the public discourse.
“Mr Turnbull thinks because he went to school with David Gonski, that is enough,” Mr Shorten said to cheers and laughter. “We will deliver Gonski’s program!”