"What drove all this, apart from Pyne's ineptitude? One is tempted to suggest ideology, but that doesn't quite add up."There are no conditions. There's no quid pro quo, no requirements, just a blank cheque and a weird threat of club-style disapproval if the states do what states always do unless prevented -- cost-shift to the Commonwealth. And, under the cover of removing the "command and control" elements of Labor's reforms, there won't even be any requirements to provide performance and resources information to monitor the effectiveness of additional funding. We won't even know if, for example, schools with disadvantaged students are getting more money. The national needs-based funding model and an effective performance and resources information system were every bit as central to the Gonski model as the additional funding. As the report itself originally pointed out, at the moment we don't even know if resources are reaching disadvantaged students, let alone the extent to which they are benefiting from them. The result, perversely is exactly what Pyne himself when shadow minister, and right-wing critics of the Gonski report, complained of -- simply throwing extra money at state education systems without any effort to find out if it's actually working. At this rate, the only clear benefit from the extra billion dollars that Pyne has had to produce to fix this disaster is his delight that Labor had to rejig its question time attack yesterday. And where will that billion dollars come from? The government is refusing to say -- it will be revealed in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. That means they want some clear air between this announcement and the revelation of what's been cut -- presumably among a number of other cuts to offset Treasurer Joe Hockey's enthusiastic expenditure on the Reserve Bank and deteriorating revenue. That means it's come from within Pyne's own budget, and there'll be some political pain from it. Not that Labor will be able to exploit it -- after all, it was Labor that used higher education funding to partly fund its own contribution to Gonski. What drove all this, apart from Pyne's ineptitude? One is tempted to suggest ideology, but that doesn't quite add up. Political pragmatism drove what turned out to be the original "unity ticket" lie from Abbott and Pyne. Then the Coalition's obsession with supporting private schools kicked in and Pyne attempted to resurrect the Howard government's SES funding model. Then he abandoned that after 24 hours. Now we've landed at some kind of states' rights position -- the states run schools, they can spend the money as they wish, we're treating them like adults, etc, etc. Confused? You ought to be. And a final point on this balls-up. If you're an industry demanding a handout, or a rent-seeker wanting protection, you now have your political guide: this government can endure six days of bad headlines, tops, before they cut and run and start flinging money to make a problem go away. We better hope this disaster is a lesson for the government, rather than defines it.
Pyne blows himself, and the Gonski reforms, to pieces
Christopher Pyne has destroyed the Gonski school funding reforms and badly damaged the government with his bungling. So what drove this balls-up?