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Victoria appears close to Gonski deal

Campbell Newman finds Rudd more congenial than he did Gillard. AAP/Glenn Hunt

The federal government expects Victoria to sign up to the Better Schools funding plan next week, and has extended the deadline for negotiations with outstanding states on the package.

Victoria and Queensland both asked for extra time today. In the second deadline extension since Kevin Rudd became PM, they have been given another seven to ten days.

The federal government is also very heartened by talks with the Catholic sector and believes it could back the changes next week.

Queensland still remains a tough hurdle, although Canberra is encouraged that the state asked for additional time.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met Queensland premier Campbell Newman today, with Education Minister Bill Shorten also in the talks. Earlier Shorten had further discussions with Victorian minister Martin Dixon and the Catholic sector.

After his meeting with Rudd, Newman said the talks were positive and made a pointed contrast with Julia Gillard.

“It was a productive discussion. It was again a discussion that was not afforded to us by the previous prime minister.

"I thank the Prime Minister for that”, he said.

“We now know what we have to do to try to reach an agreement.”

If Victoria signs there will be more pressure on Queensland. Polling showing the prospect of Rudd winning seats in the state could also increase the heat on the Newman government to compromise.

Newman has asked for more money and changes in the arrangements to give greater autonomy from Canberra.

Western Australia has said it won’t sign before the election.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott, campaigning in Rudd’s seat of Griffith, said no one could say what the new funding system was. There was a series of “secret offers” being made to different states.

He said that “you don’t have a national scheme unless you’ve got national agreement and that means all the states and territories.

"Mr Rudd hasn’t even got a majority let alone an overwhelming majority of the states and territories”.

Abbott’s policy is that the present funding system should continue for the time being. But there is confusion about whether a Coalition government would leave in place the deals if there was “overwhelming” agreement around the country or whether there would have to be total agreement.

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