A ReachTel survey conducted in Page on Tuesday night shows sitting Nationals MP Kevin Hogan in serious trouble, with ALP contender and former incumbent Janelle Saffin ahead by 56 to 44 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
But the news gets worse for Mr Hogan, with as many as 33 per cent of Page voters saying they would be more likely to vote against the Coalition if the parties don’t re-endorse the Gonski education reforms.
Teachers, students and parents living in Page converged on Mr Hogan’s office on April 6, handing over an anthology of ‘Gonski stories’ illustrating how the new funding model implemented under the previous Labor government, had changed their local schools – and students’ outcomes – for the better.
That will be backed up today by a smaller delegation of local parents and teachers, who will be telling Mr Hogan they ‘support giving Australia’s kids a fair go’ and letting him know they’re expecting the Coalition to fund the last two years of Gonski in the upcoming May federal budget.
NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron has called on the prime minister to recognise the continuing need for additional education funding and commit extra Gonski money in the budget.
Mr Mulheron said voters now ‘clearly understood’ that they were ‘misled by the Coalition during the last election campaign when Tony Abbott promised to fund the Gonski program but backed away from doing so once he became prime minister.’
Very clear difference
‘There is now a very clear difference between Labor, which has said it backs extra Gonski funding and the Coalition, which has failed to honour its previous commitment,’ Mr Mulheron said.
Eighty-six per cent of people in Page contacted by ReachTel said they were aware of the Gonski schools funding policy, with 36 per cent saying they were ‘very aware’.
Of those surveyed, 59.8 per cent said they supported the funding system with just 11.5 per cent opposing it.
Additionally, 59.4 per cent of people said Gonski should be fully funded in the May budget and 33.2 per cent said they would be less likely to vote for the Coalition if it wasn’t.
Saffin not surprised
ALP contender for the seat, Janelle Saffin, said she was not surprised by the results of the survey.
‘Our children, our communities, our schools, our nation need Gonski to be fully funded,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘The coalition went to the election promising to do that and they’ve broken that promise and the current federal member in Page hasn’t stood up for it.
‘The community sees that it has to happen.
‘I hear lots of talk about education – it’s a pretty innovative educational policy.
‘But our current federal member is missing in action,’ Ms Saffin said.
$6 billion increase
But Mr Hogan said the Gonski funding would continue under the Coalition.
‘As an ex-teacher I understand the importance of investing in education. The needs based formula of Gonski is essential and will stay,’ he told Echonetdaily.
The government has – and will continue to – increase funding for education every
Mr Hogan said that ‘$12.9 billion was invested in schools by the federal Labor government in 2012/2013.’
‘We are increasing this every year, reaching $19 billion for the year 2018/2019. This is an increase of $6 billion. This equates to approximately an increase in funding of just over $700,000 for every school,’ Mr Hogan said.
According to the survey, if an election had been held on Tuesday, 34.4 per cent of voters would have stuck with the Nationals, with the ALP on 30.5 per cent, the Greens on 17.5 per cent and independents on 8.9 per cent. Some 8.8 per cent were still undecided.