Prime Minister Tony Abbott has not ruled out a controversial idea to make wealthy families pay for their children to attend public schools but says it would be a decision for the states and territories.
I think it's good that some of the states and territories at least are thinking creatively about how they can responsibly fund their operations
But Education Minister Christopher Pyne took to Twitter today to distance himself from the idea, less than 24 hours after saying the government would not 'pre-empt' the reform process.( True to form)
The green paper on school reform, developed in consultation with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as part of the federation white paper process, has proposed four different ideas for school funding changes, including maintaining the status quo with a reduction in the Commonwealth involvement or making the federal government the dominant funder of all schools.
Under that last option, the paper floats the prospect of public school fees for high-income families.
Labor has demanded the government immediately rule out the radical idea.
But speaking at a short media conference in Canberra on Monday, Mr Abbott applauded the creative thinking behind the proposals but handballed any responsibility for change.
"Obviously there is a federation white paper reform process taking place right now," he said.
"I think it's good that some of the states and territories at least are thinking creatively about how they can responsibly fund their operations.
"But any question of how you fund public schools in terms of what contribution parents might be expected to make is absolutely a matter for the states and territories." (This is ‘Abbott code’ for we will withdraw/dramatically scale back funding and they will have to cope!)