Education minister Christopher Pyne says the Gonski scheme was completely ‘bastardised’ and it would be irresponsible to try to implement it now.
Education minister Christopher Pyne says the schools funding system he wholeheartedly backed in the election campaign was “entirely bastardised” and he’d be irresponsible to now try to implement it.
Mr Pyne denied he and Prime Minister Tony Abbott misled electors by declaring they were on a unity ticket with Labor on the Gonski schools funding program.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said that now appears to have been a tactic to negate an area of the election campaign where the coalition was vulnerable.
Mr Pyne on Tuesday announced he would deliver on the Gonski school reforms in 2014, but introduce a new funding scheme for the nation’s more than 9400 schools from 2015.
He said he’d been advised by Treasury of a $1.2 billion hole in Labor’s funding plan, putting existing agreements with most states in jeopardy because the funding cupboard is bare.
That’s prompted an outcry from states and territories which signed onto the program. Mr Pyne said the agreements weren’t legally binding.
He said as education minister he now had to sort out the “Shorten shambles” he had inherited.
“Firstly we were told five jurisdiction had signed up to it plus the Catholics. Now we discover that in fact only three jurisdiction had signed up to it and the Catholics hadn’t,” he told ABC television.
Mr Pyne said the only place this model applied in its purest form was 900 independent schools. Every state and territory had their own scheme.
“The side deals that Kevin Rudd and Julia and Kevin Rudd did with a number of states and territories meant the system was entirely bastardised to the point where there is no national school funding model,” he said.
Mr Pyne said it was also entirely incomprehensible and before the election Mr Shorten ripped $1.2 billion from the funding.
“It’s not a great model to go forward with and I would be irresponsible as education minister to implement something that is incapable of being implemented,” he said.
Mr Shorten said the government had broken its promise.
“With the government system there is a national agreement,” he told ABC television.
“Then there are heads of agreement as well, signed between the jurisdictions. In the case of the non-government sector their funding base is outlined in the act. The act went through parliament.”
Mr Shorten said during the election, the then opposition declared there was a unity ticket on education and whatever the funding envelope Labor agreed to would happen under the coalition.
“Now 10 weeks later, this is not the government that people thought they would be. They are now breaking a promise to every school parent in Australia,” he said.