“I am not prepared to sit in a room and talk about a vision document for national education while the Morrison minority Government has intentionally set up this disgraceful funding model,” Merlino said.
“It is fundamentally unfair and we will not accept it.”
At the forum, potential updates to the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians were discussed.
“Regardless of political parties, I am the Minister for Education in Victoria, and I have a responsibility to fight every single day to get the best deal for Victorians schools. I am not going to allow a dud deal to damage educational opportunities for our kids,” Merlino said.
Speaking at the Australian Education Union (AEU) Federal Conference today, shadow education minister Tanya Plibersek backed Merlino’s decision.
“Brave James Merlino told Dan Tehan to get stuffed today,” she told the crowd.
The AEU joined Merlino in the boycott, labelling the forum “a total farce”.
“The Australian Education Union will not participate in any review of the Melbourne Declaration which does not have the support of every state and territory Minister and while the critical issue of funding our schools fairly is outstanding,” AEU president Correna Haythorpe said.
“We support Min. Merlino’s decision not to take part in the national forum, and we will also be boycotting this shambolic review process.
“The AEU is of the firm view that the goals of the existing Declaration have not yet been achieved. It is unfortunate that the Morrison Government has developed a habit of shifting the goalposts when it comes up short on reaching targets”
After the forum, Tehan’s office said that the minister “praised the contribution of every minister and stakeholder at the forum for their long-term vision and commitment to the quality education of every Australian”.
Tehan’s office added that a wide ranging consultation phase will now follow.