Newman won't work with Aus Govt on education reforms
QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman has not budged amid increasing pressure to sign up to the Federal Government's Gonski education reforms on Friday.
He said on Thursday, hours before flying to Canberra for the Council of Australian Governments meeting, that he would only accept money that fit with his own $535 million education plan announced this month.
The Queensland plan involves performance-based contracts for principals, bonuses for the highest-ranked teachers and 300 "master teachers" who get up to $75,000 each over three years to help their schools.
"If the Prime Minister wants to get on board and help fund our programs so I can have 8-900 master teachers in our state schools, we're in," he told ABC on Thursday morning ahead of the Friday COAG meeting.
"I'll take money if the strings that are attached to it work for us.
"I'll take money if they want to restore $195 million worth of funding to kindergartens.
"I will go to Canberra today and do what's right for Queensland kids."
Mr Newman also told ABC he was concerned about Federal Government plans "to yank billions of dollars" from Queensland universities to fund the federal plan.
"It's not right to rip billions of dollars out of the universities across the nation and really affect people in regional Queensland," he said.
"I have talked to most of the vice-chancellors in the past few days and they have varying but deep concerns, particularly university students themselves from disadvantaged or indigenous backgrounds are ones that are going to suffer."
Higher Education Minister Craig Emerson said he was "disappointed" with Mr Newman's attitude and the "excuses" he was using to avoid committing to the reforms, arguing the university cuts were "completely false".
"We're putting in an efficiency dividend of 2% in 2014, 1.25% in 2015 and the fact is that funding to universities will continue to rise, at a slightly slower rate, and per student funding to universities will continue to rise," he told ABC.
"All he has done is try to make a bunch of excuses as to why he wants to reject a once in a lifetime opportunity for the kids of Queensland."
Mr Emerson said the "broken down scheme" Mr Newman wanted to keep would result in Queensland education losing half a billion dollars "because of poor indexation not keeping up with real costs".
"For Campbell Newman to be content with a second-rate school system in Queensland because he thinks he's got a better model when that would actually rip $643,000 off every school in Queensland, or $1500 from every student - how callous could you be?" he said.
Greens schools spokeswoman Senator Penny Wright said state premiers who did not sign up to the Gonski school funding reforms at the COAG meeting must be held accountable.
"If Coalition state premiers fail to reach an agreement to fairly fund our schools, our whole nation will suffer," she said.
"It will cost our economy billions and leave so many Australian children behind."