Rudd wins over Catholics for Gonski - now onto Victoria

Bill Shorten and Kevin Rudd have had a significant win with the Catholics signing onto Gonski. AAP/Lukas Coch

Prime minister Kevin Rudd and Education Minister Bill Shorten will meet Victorian Premier Denis Napthine today, in a push to get the state to sign up soon to the Better Schools Program. This follows the Catholic education system backing the plan today.

Rudd and Shorten, announcing the Catholics’ agreement, said about $1.6 billion in extra funding would flow to more than 7000 Catholic-run schools across Australia over the next six years, benefiting nearly 700,000 students.

Rudd again urged Napthine to sign up to the Federal government’s education reforms, saying “it took two to tango”.

“I’m here for a purpose. It’s a matter for the Premier whether he wants to join us in that important national purpose,” Rudd said.

The government believes Victoria wants to sign up to the program, but there are still discussions about reconciling conflicting aspects in the state and federal data about the system.

On the other hand, the government does not think Queensland wants to come into the new arrangements. While Rudd and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman initially had a positive discussion, the state has since become more belligerent, with the state’s Education Minister John Paul Langbroek saying Shorten used “velvet tones” while Rudd “slagged” Queensland.

The discussions with the Catholics revolved around the distribution of the funds within the system on the basis of need, and also issues of autonomy.

Rudd and Shorten said in a statement the additional funding that would flow to Catholic education provided enough for each Catholic systemic school to receive a 3% increase per student per year, based on 2013 funding levels.

The independent schools sector has already embraced the plan.

The National Catholic Education Commission said that it was confident that under the government legislation “no school would be worse off and these funding arrangements would deliver significant increases over time to every child in the Catholic school system”.

“The arrangements will progressively deliver increased Commonwealth funding to each state’s Catholic education system based on common measures of student need across all education sectors,” the NCEC said in a statement.