Barnaby in the firing line

New England MP Barnaby Joyce with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won't back Gonski funding
New England MP Barnaby Joyce with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won't back Gonski funding

Member for New England Barnaby Joyce will not attend the Gonski Schools funding community forum in Tamworth today despite the date being moved to accommodate his parliamentary schedule.

NSW Teachers Federation New England Organiser Susan Armstead said four invitations were sent to Mr Joyce over seven weeks.

“Barnaby Joyce will not defend his government's decision to see $28 million in Gonski funding lost to New England's most needy students,” she said.

“Five of the ten poorest postcodes in New South Wales  are in his electorate.

“Barnaby made a pledge to New England voters before the 2013 election to continue to commit to Gonski past the first term so he must be held accountable to the parents and students in those postcodes who will now lose critical needs-based funding.”

Mrs Armstead said Mr Joyce must explain why his government will not invest in the future of children and why he is putting at risk critical funding for schools in Glen Innes and its surrounding districts.

“What is at risk in this area are individual programs that Emmaville Central, Glen Innes West infants and Glen Innes High schools have put in to place that support students in rural NSW,” she said.

“Emmaville Central has used Gonski money to fund a speech pathologist to work with children entering school, obviously having good speech and understanding language is important.

“What is at risk at Glen Innes West infant’s school is a learning support officer to support the needs of Aboriginal students in the school.

At Glen Innes High the Gonski funding has been used to take some of their students to capital cities and experience things like the gallery of modern art so they can increase their understanding of the arts, things that isolated country students don’t get a chance to do normally.” 

Independent candidate for New England Tony Windsor said Gonski education reforms will be a crucial issue in the federal election.

“Gonski education reforms will give our kids the start they need in life but Barnaby does not support needs based education funding,” he said 

“The Gonski education funding proposal will, if fully funded, provide a platform for a higher and fairer standard of education for everyone.”

However, Mr Joyce disputed claims he had back flipped on education funding.

“While funding is important, it is no guarantee of improved student results unless it is spent on proven strategies and the Turnbull–Joyce Government won't promise money first and then seek to negotiate outcomes later,” he said.

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