Friday, July 12, 2013

Abbott to Back Gonski If All States Agree

A teacher teaches primary school students in Brisbaneby AAP, The Australian:

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott says all states must sign up to the government's education reforms for the coalition to back the scheme.

However, his education spokesman says they would accept an overwhelming majority.

NSW, the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania, and the Independent Schools Council of Australia have signed up to the funding reforms, which involve significant amounts of new money for schools.

But the remaining jurisdictions and the Catholic Education Commission are yet to reach agreement ahead of Sunday's deadline.

Mr Abbott said all governments would need to sign up before the coalition committed to honouring the agreements. "You can't have a national change unless all states are on board," he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

It contradicts earlier statements by opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, who said the coalition would continue with the reforms with an "overwhelming majority" of states and territories on side.

"If the government can get most of the other states to join then we will obviously keep this new measure, but they are a long way from achieving that," Mr Pyne told ABC Radio on Thursday. Mr Abbott said the price tag put on the reforms was unaffordable in the current climate.

"You need $6.5 billion a year more if every school is to be better off," he said. "If we weren't blowing more than $10 billion on illegal boat arrivals, a whole lot of things ... would be more affordable."

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