Senior government frontbenchers have given conflicting messages over whether the Turnbull government remains committed to $30 billion in school funding savings announced in the Coalition's disastrous 2014 budget.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Tuesday indicated the government was willing to give ground on its controversial plan to tie school funding increases to inflation and enrolments from 2018.
Catholic and independent schools are fiercely opposed to tieing school funding increases to inflation, warning the change could lead to fee hikes and school closures.( Well if they don't like it then I'm sure they'll do something about it!)
Senator Birmingham said the funding estimates for 2018 onwards were "indicative only" and would be subject to negotiation with the states and the non-government school sector. Leaked talking points also said the government would "decide" an indexation rate that better reflects the increasing cost of schooling.
But later that evening Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government was sticking to its indexation plan.
"The formula that we've put into the trajectory beyond 2018 is essentially [the consumer price index] plus a growth factor for enrolment growth purposes," he told Sky News. "That is the number that is currently reflected in the budget and that reflects the Government's policy position."
When asked if that could change, Senator Cormann said: "As with anything, if any minister wants to suggest changes that have a negative impact on the budget bottom line, they would have to find other areas in their portfolio to pay for it through offsetting savings in other areas of their portfolio."
The government's approach to schools funding is "realistic, sustainable and affordable", he said.
Labor education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said: "The Prime Minister needs to immediately clarify who is right - his Finance Minister or his Education Minister.
.......good luck with that!
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