Federal Labor and the Australian Greens are set to put pressure on the government over school funding in a Senate inquiry.
Labor will seek to pressure the Abbott government over what it says are backflips and broken promises on school funding reform at a parliamentary inquiry.
Senators of the select committee on school funding will grill Department of Education officials during the inquiry’s first public hearing in Sydney on Thursday.
The inquiry will examine how new money for schools is being rolled out across the nation and how close it is to the recommendations of David Gonski’s report.
The Abbott government has promised NSW, the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria $2.8 billion in school funding over four years.
Those jurisdictions, which signed up to the deal before the federal election, are required to roll out funding on a needs-based formula and promise to keep increasing their own portion of funding.
But the same requirements are not to be imposed on Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, whose agreements with the coalition are yet to be fleshed out.
Moreover, the government has committed to the new funding system for four years from 2014, instead of the six Labor promised.
Committee chair Labor Senator Jacinta Collins says the hearing is aimed at putting pressure on the government to clarify its school funding and reform plans.
“Strong community and state government pressure forced the government to backflip late last year and we hope that highlighting what’s occurring now will hold the government to account and make it reconsider its ad-hoc and concerning approach to school funding,” she told AAP on Wednesday.
The inquiry will also hear from education groups and unions such as the Australian Education Union and the Australian Council of State School Organisations.
Unions are expected to call for the full six-year roll out to be honoured, because more than two-thirds of the original $15 billion deal was proposed in the final two years.
The NSW government has declined to appear before the committee.