TONY Abbott says public schools are adequately resourced and the Gonski school funding reforms are unaffordable under current budgetary conditions.
In a speech to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, the Opposition Leader rejected claims that the commonwealth government neglected the funding of public schools in favour of independent schools.
He said state school students received 79 per cent of education funding, compared to the 21 per cent going to those at private schools.
“There is no question of injustice for public schools here, if anything, the injustice is the other way,” Mr Abbott said.
“The risk from the Gonski process is that greater funding for public schools may mean less commonwealth funding for independent schools.”
He said the Coalition would stick to the current funding system because the idea there was $5 billion a year “lying around” to pay for the reforms “defies common sense”
“I have to say to you, ladies and gentlemen, while I am strongly supportive of reasonable steps to increase funding for education, I am deeply sceptical that Gonski is doable at this time,” he said. “Given all the other fiscal demands that state and commonwealth governments face.”
Mr Abbott said the government was currently facing extra costs from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, border protection, and the “determination to maintain a slender surplus”.
Julia Gillard today pledged every private school would receive more money under the government’s response to the Gonski review.
Mr Abbott said he feared the government was keen to make an impression without actually delivering on any promised improvement.
“The only way to ensure that no school is worse off is, I believe to stick with the existing system,” he said.
Mr Abbott said modelling done by the independent sector and state governments showed up to one in three schools would be worse off under the Gonski reforms.
He said the government’s decision to delay its response to the report showed there were problems with it.
“At the very least, I think the government should immediately release its modelling of the impact of Gonski, if only so that the scale of the challenge the policy makers face can be fully exposed,” he said.