Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out supporting a controversial proposal to means-test free public education only hours after praising it as "creative thinking". Earlier on Education Minister Christopher Pyne dismissed the proposal, contained in a leaked discussion paper developed by the Prime Minister's department, as a "balloon that's been floated" and said he did not support it. Both Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne left open supporting other radical ideas in the paper, including ending all Commonwealth funding for public schools. Asked about the issue during question time on Monday afternoon, Mr Abbott said: "Let me say this, the Australian government does not and will not support a means test for public education, full stop, ends of story. If the states and territories want to change wealthy parents fees for public schools, that is a matter for them. Charging wealthy parents for their children to attend public schools is not this government's policy." Earlier on Monday, the Prime Minister praised the idea as "creative thinking" and refused to rule it out!
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews described the idea of making wealthy parents pay for state schools as "appalling", saying: "Victorians will not cop this."
The usual suspects bobbed up to support it: Liberal MP Andrew Laming (One of Abbott’s previous detractors) backed the proposal, saying it was incongruous that 18-year old university students have to pay fees but the wealthy families of 17-year old school children do not. "Should high-income earners be paying to attend a state education facility? My view is firmly yes," Dr Laming said. "Ultimately the product has a value and that value should be reflected by those who have the ability to pay."John Roskam, executive director of free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, supported the idea and said it ought to be debated. "Many people, such as myself, have long argued that wealthy parents should make a contribution to government school education," he said. "The idea that education is free is a misnomer." Requiring wealthy parents to pay school fees would produce "parents with a stronger, better stake in government school education". (Umm Claptrap!)
The fact is, they'd love to introduce this policy. In fact Abbott saying 'This is not our policy' is not the same as saying ' I totally repudiate the his official paper' Tony Abbott’s education green paper recommends ending universal access to education in Australia.The official paper, currently being considered by the Liberals, includes plans to charge compulsory government fees to parents who send their kids to public schools and even suggests ending Federal funding for public schools altogether.Cutting federal funding to public schools and introducing compulsory government school fees for public school students is the biggest attack on public education by a federal government ever. If Abbott goes ahead with these changes they would end universal access to education in Australia.