The prime minister has attacked state leaders for failing to embrace his school funding plan
Apr 4 , 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
State leaders have lost all credibility on schools funding following their refusal to accept responsibility for raising their own education tax, the Prime Minster has said.
Malcolm Turnbull has hit back as a new poll shows his popularity tumbling in the wake of his failure to win support from the states last week for a radical overhaul of schools funding.
The Australian-commissioned Newspoll shows the Coalition’s popularity has dwindled to a six-month low and fallen behind Labor for the first time since Mr Turnbull became leader - less than 90 days out from a possible double-dissolution election.
The poll follows Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting at which Mr Turnbull announced a plan to replace federal grants with new tax powers for states, allowing them to raise their own revenue to fully fund public schools.
The surprise proposal was rejected when no documents we produced to support it, and amid fears it would create inequality between schools in affluent and non-affluent states and between state-funded public schools and federally-funded private ones.
But the defeat has allowed the PM to shift the debate over schools funding, saying state governments can no longer credibly demand extra federal funding for education when they refused to take responsibility for raising the money themselves when given the chance.
And it means when state leaders advocate the Government raise tax rates to counter Australia’s revenue problem, the Prime Minister can point to their unwillingness to do the same.
“Often a quick and clear ‘no’ is very revealing,” he told Sky News.
“What we have learned from the premiers is they have no credibility ... because when they were offered the opportunity to be able to levy a portion of income tax themselves they had no interest at all, they didn’t even want to discuss it ... so what that means is we have to live within our means, they don’t want to raise taxes, well neither do we”.
His words follow statements by state premiers Mike Baird, Colin Barnett, Jay Weatherill and Daniel Andrews on Friday that Australia faces a serious revenue problem and tax rises are necessary if health and education services are to be maintained at the levels Australian expect.
NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli has described Mr Turnbull’s plan as “The biggest mistake in education policy - probably ever”, telling Fairfax Media it would entrench a two-tiered education system.
"The non-government [system] would be funded by the federal government with plenty of revenue raising ability, while public schools would be fighting for funding against hospitals and policing,” he said.
But federal education minister Simon Birmingham says it is illogical to argue that the federal government, which is $36 billion in deficit, is better placed than the in-surplus NSW government to increase schools spending.
The Federal Government’s long-term strategy for schools funding will be revealed in early 2017.
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