NSW could lose school cash under PM Abbott

“We are certainly making no commitments whatsoever”: The federal opposition refuses to commit to NSW’s Gonski deal if elected. Photo: Andrew MearesThe federal opposition has refused to commit to allowing NSW to keep funding agreed to under the Gonski deal, a centrepiece of Tuesday’s budget, if elected.

The budget papers revealed plans for a trickle of money for the new school funding model to start next financial year, with $473 million from the federal government, rising to $1.1 billion in 2016-17.

Labor had confirmed NSW would get about $100 million in federal funds in the first year.

In total, NSW schools are set to receive an additional $5 billion over six years from state and federal governments under the deal signed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Barry O’Farrell last month.

But in the budget aftermath, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he still did not have enough detail to say whether he would honour the deal if elected.

”The only state which has signed up so far is NSW and no one knows what the Prime Minister and the Premier have agreed to,” he said on ABC Radio. ”Now, we are certainly making no commitments whatsoever to honour a deal we have no details on.”

NSW remains the only state to have signed on to the new funding deal, which has a deadline of June 30.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli did not say whether he was lobbying his federal colleagues to commit to the deal but confirmed his government remained ”strongly supportive of the Gonski reforms because they are a win for students”.

His spokesman said NSW would have lost ”$1.6 billion in National Partnership investment”, and ”up to $300 million in annual growth funding from the Commonwealth” had it not signed up.

Queensland insists it is keeping the door open to a potential deal on Gonski but it is understood there has been little movement in negotiations in recent weeks.

The Western Australia government still argues the proposal is a raw deal. Premier Colin Barnett was unmoved by the budget.

In Parliament on Wednesday, federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett contrasted Mr Abbott’s attitude with that of Mr O’Farrell, who recognised the importance of the Gonski reforms.

”Unfortunately for the schoolchildren of the nation, the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t share this vision,” Mr Garrett said.

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