Tony Abbott has called on Education Minister Simon Birmingham to reconsider elements of the Turnbull Government’s needs-based school funding policy and be more generous to the Catholic sector. Source: The Australian.
The former prime minister’s call comes after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten privately hailed a robocall campaign by Catholic Education Melbourne as a key factor in Labor’s win in Saturday’s by-election for the Melbourne seat of Batman.
“This is a very interesting development. The Catholic school authority certainly took a very, very strong stance against the Greens in Batman, and yes Bill Shorten has made some encouraging noises,” Mr Abbott told 2GB.
“I’m not sure how much the Catholic school people ought to trust Bill Shorten, but I certainly think that if the government was smart we would have a look at our existing policy.
“The point that I made at the time of the new policy was that it’s going to make low fee schools in middle class suburbs almost impossible to run.”
Mr Birmingham said the Catholic education sector in Victoria was receiving an extra $100 million each year under the Turnbull government’s needs-based policy.
“Bill Shorten has walked away from any commitment to needs-based school funding, and for him school funding is now about how many votes can he buy, it seems,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News.
Mr Birmingham said the government was reviewing the socio-economic score calculations in response to Catholic sector concerns.
"We will finish that review by the middle of this year, we’ll respond to that, and I would say that across the rest of the country, Catholic education is engaging very constructively with us in relation to that review.”
Asked whether the Victorian branch of Catholic Education was being constructive, Senator Birmingham said: “There’s always somebody who can be bought by a few pieces of silver, but ultimately we’re going to get a solution here in terms of ensuring that we have school funding that is principled, needs-based and built on formulas that a robust and data that is proven.
“That’s fair then to everybody, whether it’s a Catholic school, another faith-based school, or a government school.”
Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland said the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne had made a “very informed decision” when it decided to contact voters.
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