Sometime around 2.00 am Friday morning sleep-bleary parliamentarians gave a Gonski and allowed the government’s Gonski 2.0 education bill to pass.
Senator Jacqui Lambie, who voted for the legislation along with Senators Hinch, Hanson, Gichuhi and the Nick Xenophon Team, called it as she saw it: “Game over.”
And, it was, to the fury of Labor and the teachers’ union, and the wavering Greens, who, after initially indicating that they were responsive to arguments put forward in support of the bill, folded, after hard threats made by the unions to target Green seats and the refusal of the Lee Rhiannon faction within the Greens to refuse to do deals with the government.
So why did Labor push so hard and so long against the Bill when even people like former Australian Education Union head Diane Foggo expressed approval of Gonski 2.
The answer, sort of, was the legacy thing. Gonski – the original 2011 Gonski – was a Gillard Labor initiative, and as such, Labor would rather have seen it dead, buried and cremated, than resuscitated by a Coalition government.
Teeth were gritted and groans emitted in Labor’s ranks when Malcolm Turnbull announced Gonski 2.0 with the eponymous policy maker standing beside the Prime Minister.
It’s the legacy thing.
Amid the mistakes of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years, ‘Cash for Clunkers’ ‘Pink Batts’ the interminable twists of the NBN and NDIS sagas and so on, Gonski stood out as a Labor triumph, Labor’s legacy. Then it was stolen from under their noses in an act of superb effrontery by a Liberal PM.
It was no mean task to gain the cooperation of backbenchers and independent Senators – an achievement akin to herding cats – to deliver Gonski 2. With promised extra sweeteners and a shorter delivery time, it was accomplished before the deadline of the end of this sitting.
Driving into Canberra you see a massive billboard, paid for by the teachers’ union, saying ‘Give a Gonski’. Bet it won’t be there next week.
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