Riverina politicians back needs-based funding model

RIVERINA politicians have engaged in a war of words over the Liberal Party’s controversial new school funding arrangements, but there is one thing they can agree on. 

Federal MP Michael McCormack.

Federal MP Michael McCormack.

While the outcome of Tuesday’s federal budget remains highly contested, both Liberal and Labor agreed a non-needs based funding model was depriving Wagga schools. 

Labor member Tim Kurylowicz said he was “relieved” that the new funding addressed country schools were “missing out” but only in a “half-heartd way”. 

“As Australians we believe that where you’re born shouldn’t determine your chances in life,” Mr Kurylowicz said. 

“The old system was funded by which postcode you were in and the Liberal government have now acknowledged we need to do better.” 

Federal MP Michael McCormack hit back at claims that the newly released School Funding Estimator “couldn’t be trusted”, touting treasurer Scott Morrison’s budget as a “great success”. 

“The federal government has topped up the state government funding to ensure there is no short fall for parents,” Mr McCormack said. 

“This is a great needs-based funding model for the Riverina.” 

The needs-based funding means the government will provide a share of 80 per cent of a non-government school’s Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), a measure of a school’s need, including a base amount per student. 

For government schools, the government will contribute 20 per cent of the school’s SRS. 

Mr McCormack said the Labor government had used David Gonski’s “name in vain” for the original education model. 

“They didn’t sign up some states and they left us with a mess,” Mr McCormack said. 

“We’ve now provided record funding that every child can receive.” 

Mr McCormack said regional education has received a significant lift, with 128 Riverina schools benefiting from the funding. 

In a Teachers Federation released document comparing the Turnbull schools plan versus Gonski, it was revealed schools such as Wagga High would “lose” close to one million dollars in the next financial year. 

Mr Kurylowicz said it was “unconscionable” that the funding represented a “$22 billion cut over the next few years alone”. 

“Gonski left thousands of happy Riverina parents,” Mr Kurylowicz said.