Dear Mr Pyne

I am sure anyone who knows me or reads this blog has a pretty fair idea of where my political and ideological affiliations sit. I won’t go on in length here about the recent budget or the horrors of the past 8 months under this LNP government… that’s what Facebook and Twitter are for, after all.

But I did want to share the letter I just sent, via the Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright’s petition regarding the government’s reneging on their repeated promises that they would honour the Gonski report recommendations, and match the level of funding promised by the previous Labor government. So here it is.

Dear Mr Pyne,

I was deeply concerned to hear your  public statement that you and your party are ’emotionally committed’ to private schools.

As Federal Minister for Education, you should be emotionally committed to the best outcome for every student in every school in this country, and as the person responsible for the allocation of tax-payer funds, that should primarily mean students in public schools supported by the Australian public through our taxes. Australia has a justifiably proud heritage of free universal education for every student, a heritage based on the philosophy of pioneers such as Sir Henry Parkes, who had  a vision for public education where every Australian child would sit ‘side by side’ and have full educational access and equity regardless of their social or cultural background.

Australians have overwhelmingly demonstrated their approval of the reforms proposed by the Gonski report. You stated repeatedly before the election that schools would receive the same amount of money under your government as promised by Labor. Please honour your word and honour the children of Australia by reversing your decision to abandon the reforms and funding you promised.

I have spent nearly my entire working life working with and for children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of western Sydney—the very region most pandered to by unfulfilled promises from your government. I have seen first hand the difference a properly resourced, well-maintained school can make in the lives of these children. The much-maligned program of new school facilities built by the previous Labor government has provided these schools with dedicated library spaces (not leaky demountables) where children may read, research and study; school halls that have freed up spaces in the school to allow creative arts, sports and other rich engagement programs that most benefit the most disadvantaged. Money may not solve every problem in our schools, but the lack of it creates many, many more.

You may be emotionally committed to your old school tie, and the benefits that have flowed your way from that privileged community. I am emotionally committed to ensuring that children who did not start out in life with the advantages you did have at least some chance to make the most of their potential, and that’s where I want my taxes to go.

Fund the Gonski recommendations in full. Anything else is truly a false economy.

Yours sincerely,

Judith Ridge