China agreement in hand but still polling poorly, the Labor government this week turned to education, as PM Julia Gillard and Schools Minister Peter Garrett vowed to legislate the $14.5 billion Gonski school reform package, despite hostility to the plan in WA and Queensland.

Set for a showdown at Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting, WA Premier Colin Barnett said he would be “nuts” to sign up for the Commonwealth’s offer of an extra $300 million when NSW schools would reap $3.2 billion, while Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said neither his government nor the Commonwealth could afford it.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese — who warned of further budget cuts to fund the education reforms — garnered national headlines when he released a study proposing a $114 billion fast train rail network be built between Brisbane and Melbourne. Greens leader Christine Milne was a big supporter of these government initiatives, saying her party would do “whatever it takes” to get the education reforms though Parliament, and the fast train would “make an amazing difference”.

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Not so shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, naysaying the rail network and hammering proposed tertiary funding cuts in the Gonski plan. Also making news was Barnaby Joyce, preselected for a lower house seat and set to run against Tony Windsor.

Crikey Political Index: April 11-17

The Mad Katter called for armed patrol boats with missiles to monitor asylum seeker vessels after a boat made landfall at Geraldton Harbour.

Talkback top five

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been shading Gillard in social media circles over recent weeks, while K-Rudd’s media coverage continues to decline.

Social media top five

A tough week for the Bombers coach James Hird who fronts Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigators and handles allegations he was injected with problematic substances.

Comparisons on media mentions

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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