Labor has lashed out at the prospect of the Turnbull government sealing a deal with the Greens on schools funding reforms, despite the fact it could result in fast-tracked spending and significantly more cash.
Extra schools funding promised by the Turnbull government could be rolled out four years faster than planned and a new independent watchdog put in place, under a deal with the Greens to pass Gonski 2.0.
“It’d be very disappointing indeed to see a secret deal between the Greens and the government on schools funding,” opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said in Sydney on Saturday.
Ms Plibersek said the coalition’s proposed scheme was based on “fantasy figures” and 85 per cent of public schools wouldn’t reach fair funding levels after a decade.
“It’d be very disappointing to see the Greens fall for that one,” she said.
Laws to bring in a needs-based funding model, proposed by consultant David Gonski, are to be debated in the Senate on Wednesday, days before the parliament rises for the winter break.
With the government 10 votes short of a majority in the upper house, and Labor opposed to the package, the coalition will need the nine Greens and one other crossbench senator.
A confidential offer from the government proposes cutting the time frame to get to the target funding level from 10 years to six and a national schools resourcing body, Fairfax Media reports.
It was reported the deal could boost the proposed $18.6 billion in funding to as much as $24 billion.
In their negotiations the Greens have been seeking a shorter time frame, extra funding for public schools and the national watchdog which would monitor funding and spending and review the new benchmark “schooling resource standard”.
But there has been some pushback from NSW Greens and unions, who say the Turnbull government’s Gonski 2.0 does not properly align with Mr Gonski’s original design and does not contain enough money for public schools.
While not confirming where the talks were at, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the government’s original proposal was not good enough in a number of key areas and changes were needed.
“We’re speaking with key stakeholders and our party room will then make a decision,” he told AAP.
“We remain committed to delivering an outcome for Australian kids in line with David Gonski’s original vision for a truly needs-based funding model.”