NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell threw Julia Gillard a lifeline by signing up to her signature Gonski funding package. It came as something of a surprise in terms of timing, but O'Farrell has done a clever thing.
He knows, as do most state premiers, that the offer of increased education funding won't be extended by an incoming Coalition government (indeed, it may even be withdrawn). So he's jumped at it, probably benefiting from being the first mover, but also allowing the government ample time to convince the other states. The Labor states are expected to sign up eventually, and the reform will probably survive without the support of Western Australia, meaning the success of the funding overhaul now rests on Queensland and Victoria signing up.
If they want a lesson in how to play politics, the other premiers might look to O'Farrell's example. He explained to his constituents that the only way NSW could afford its share of the new funding was to cut much of it from TAFEs and the public sector, thus blaming the federal government even while pocketing the extra billions.
Nick Feik Politicoz Editor
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“For years the Libs have condemned Labor’s timid explanations as mere excuses and have been promising to return the budget to surplus as soon as they got back to office. But the reality of the budget's revenue weakness has finally dawned on them, too.”