Powerful messages were delivered to candidates for the seat of New England at the Gonski Education Forum on May 17 with speakers representing their local community outlining the tangible benefits Gonski funds were providing students in schools throughout the electorate.
The incumbent member and Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, was a no-show but independent candidate Tony Windsor and Greens candidate Mercurius Goldstein outlined their education platforms, which include full funding of schools according to needs, as stipulated by the Gonski Review.
Statements were read from the Country Labor candidate David Ewings and independent candidate Rob Taber, both supporting the full Gonski funding agreement.
Not only did Mr Joyce stay away, he failed to provide any statement for the meeting to consider, and those gathered were left feeling ignored by the senior Coalition member.
Speakers told candidates present that Gonski funding had provided opportunities to give better support to students on their learning journey with access to specialist teachers, help to become better readers, writers and mathematicians and additional programs extended to a greater number of children.
Federation Deputy President Gary Zadkovich reminded the forum that in 2013 there was bipartisan action when a NSW Coalition government supported by state Labor and the state Greens signed up to the full Gonski.
“Politics were put aside and students put first,” Mr Zadkovich said. “The money is there [now] but politicians are not prepared to allocate it to schools.” He suggested that building one less submarine would provide the full Gonski funding — it was that simple.
“Gonski is the fairest system of education funding we’ll ever see in our lifetime. The message from the forum is to stand up for our children and grandchildren and call on all political parties and candidates in the New England to support full Gonski funding,” Mr Zadkovich said.