MP's bold Gonski defence

Dinoo Kelleghan

NSW Nationals MP Adam Marshall

New England state Nationals MP Adam Marshall has fearlessly taken on critics including federal Nationals leader, Barnaby Joyce, over support for Gonski school funding.

While not mentioning Mr Joyce by name, Mr Marshall issued a long media release on March 15 condemning those who derided the Gonski bus as a stunt.

On March 12, Mr Joyce — whose New England federal electorate overlaps Mr Marshall’s Northern Tablelands state electorate — belittled the AEU’s Gonski campaign, complaining to reporters of “a green bus following me around”.

“The Teachers Federation is following me around in a green bus and saying, ‘whatever you’ve giving, we want more’,” he said.

“The Teachers Federation … supported by the Labor Party — their solution is more money equals panacea,” he said later that day in Tamworth.

Mr Marshall has openly expressed gratitude for the extra $12 million put into state government schools in his electorate in three years of Gonski funding but Mr Joyce does not thank the Gonski plan despite his electorate receiving $21 million. On March 15, Mr Marshall stated firmly in a press release: “Following the visit by the Gonski bus in our region on Monday, I have been disappointed by some of the public commentary from federal politicians about the nature of the campaign and the value of needs-based funding to our region's schools ...

“To label the visit of the bus as a stunt run by the NSW Teachers Federation and the Labor Party is not only misleading, it’s mischievous …. As a State National Party MP, I wholeheartedly and proudly support the campaign.”

ABC New England reporter Tawar Razaghi retweeted the media release, noting, “Fed Nats MP Barnaby Joyce bagged out the Gonksi [sic] campaign going thru his electorate on Monday and state Nats MP Adam Marshall is pissed off.”

Mr Marshall energetically retweeted supportive comments during the Gonski bus tour such as this one from Federation: The community of Duval High School in Armidale are #onboardwithGonski! Tell @Barnaby_Joyce that #Gonski gets results and must be maintained!

He vowed to keep pressuring Canberra to honour the Gonski deal, saying education funding should be above party politics and pointing out that NSW signed the six-year Gonski agreement with the Commonwealth, not with the Labor government in power at the time in Canberra.

Parents of schoolchildren in the NSW Central West are increasingly aware of how Gonski funding is helping their children. A parent of a Year 10 student at Lightning Ridge CS in the federal Nationals-held seat of Parkes, adjacent to New England, messaged Federation Representative Seona MacDonald: “Atrocious that funding may stop or be lowered.”

And these from two other parents:

“My child’s reading has improved in the last 12 months. She has been receiving SLSO [School Learning Support Officer] support to help her improve.”

“My daughter has special needs and she receives extra support in an MC [Multi-Categorical] class.”