Minister for Education Peter Garrett.
Minister for Education Peter Garrett. Rob Williams

MPs fail to sit down and resolve Gonski funding dilemma

WHILE the political stoush over Gonski funding for Queensland has been playing out through the media, the federal and state education ministers have not actually sat down to negotiate for at least a week.

The funding fight between School Education Minister Peter Garrett and his state counterpart John-Paul Langbroek reached fever pitch on Wednesday.

It came after Mr Langbroek refused to allow Mr Garrett to go to a Brisbane school for a media conference to agitate for Mr Langbroek to sign up to the reforms.

While Mr Garrett sought Mr Langbroek's permissionto hold the media conference at a state school, it is understood he did not ask the state minister for a meeting to actually discuss the reforms during his trip to Queensland.

Mr Garrett then cancelled his planned trip to Queensland to hold the media conference, instead holding it in Sydney.

A series of media releases and public statements released by both ministers in recent weeks have included escalating attacks on each other over funding levels for the state's schools.

While both ministers have sought to attack each other over the negotiations, Mr Langbroek's office confirmed Mr Garrett had not sought a meeting with him for at least a week.

Both ministers now have only 12 business days left to negotiate the deal before it expires.

With two weeks of federal parliamentary sittings in Canberra before the June 30 deadline, it was becoming increasingly unlikely the two ministers would actually sit down together.

Mr Langbroek said Mr Garrett had not actually been banned from Queensland schools, only that he would not be allowed to enter the school grounds if he intended to make political statements during such visits.

"What we've seen from the Prime Minister and other ministers in recent weeks is a concerted political campaign," he said.

"We're not going to allow political campaigning using our kids as props from the Prime Minister or the Education Minister.

"We're not seeing any attempt by these people to meet with us as the political representatives, they'd rather grandstand in our schools and we're not going to allow it."

Mr Garrett said he hoped the state government would reconsider the ban, labelling it "an opposition to free speech".

He said the refusal to allow him to enter Queensland schools was "nothing short of someone trying to deny access in a free and open democracy".

Questions regarding when the two ministers last met in person to progress the Gonski negotiations were also put to Mr Garrett's office.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was in Western Australia on Wednesday to promote the Gonski reforms in that state, despite the WA Government previously voicing concerns the reforms would leave that state's schools worse off.



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