Coalition education plan will cost schools billions: Gillard

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has tried to discredit the Opposition's education plans, releasing figures which show $16.2 billion in funds would be lost if her school reforms are not completed.

The Opposition will not implement the Gillard Government's school funding reforms, instead proposing a package of other changes, including initiatives to improve teacher quality.

Ms Gillard and School Education Minister Peter Garrett released the figures on Sunday in an attempt to drive home the importance of the funding reforms to the electorate.

It comes as federal Labor faces a likely election loss in September, with a Galaxy poll released on Sunday showing little change in the party's fortunes.

Ms Gillard will also be at pains to secure her legacy as Prime Minister, with the Gonski reforms and Disability Care Australia the main prongs of last week's budget.

The budget outlined $16.2 billion ion federal and state-territory funding if all jurisdictions sign up to the National Plan for School Improvement.

Labor has until June 30 to pass legislation to enact the national reforms, after getting the states and territories on board with the reforms.

Current national partnership agreements for school funding are also due to expire this year, and without the funding agreement, millions could be lost across most states.

In signing a deal for reform earlier this year, New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell described the expiring agreements as a "sting in the tail" if he did not sign on.

But Ms Gillard said the problem was the combination of the expiring agreements and state government education cuts added to the indexed calculation of federal funding.

She said if the agreements expired and state continued to cut education funding, the indexation would see further cuts if a national agreement was not reached.

Ms Gillard said Australians were now faced with a choice between millions of dollar in extra school funding or a "broken, limping" school education system under the Coalition.

But Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne hit back, saying the government was actually cutting $326 million from school education over the next four years.

He also said the Coalition had calculated more than $3.1 billion in education "cuts and redirections" in the budget, mostly to fund the school reforms.

"The figures the Government has released today are entirely false," Mr Pyne said.

"It is part of a scare campaign built on false premises and doctored budget statements which are designed to scare schools into believing they would only receive 3% indexation over the next six years."

The government figures released showed Queensland schools stand to lose an average of $2.5 million, while NSW would lose an average of $800,000 over six years if reforms are not delivered.

School reform difference:

  • QLD: Average $2.2 million extra per school
  • NSW, TAS, NT: Average $1.6 million extra per school
  • VIC: Average $1.8 million extra per school
  • SA, ACT: Average $800,000 extra per school
  • WA: Average $300,000 extra per school

NOTE: All funding over six years, if Federal Government secures national agreement on proposed reforms.


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