Federal government aid to Australian private schools to continue

Even under a Leftist government. With 39% of Australian teenagers going to non-government schools, anything else would consign the Left to years in the political wilderness. "Biffo" Latham's threat to private schools was a major factor in his undoing

PETER GARRETT has predicted a shake-up of school funding will not reignite class divisions, declaring the nation has moved on from debates about funding private schools.

The panel charged with reviewing funding, chaired by the businessman David Gonski, handed its report to Mr Garrett, the School Education Minister, shortly before Christmas.

Mr Garrett is developing the government's response, which will be released with the report early in the new school year.
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The opposition's education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, has predicted the government will cut funding to private schools, forcing them to increase fees or sack staff.

But Mr Garrett said despite Mr Pyne's "mischievous" contributions, the debate on funding schools had been "mature."

"I would certainly caution against the opposition thinking that there is some window of opportunity once a report of this kind is released to reignite those stale old ideological warfare exercises," Mr Garrett said. "We're in a different place as a country now. We recognise that we have a government system and non-government systems of education and we need to have an approach that applies to all systems, and that's what we're aiming for."

Mr Pyne said the opposition was taking its cues from Mr Garrett's refusal to rule out cuts to school funding indexation.

"Millions of parents with children in non-government schools are waiting to see how much their school fees will be going up because of the Gillard government's changes to school funding," Mr Pyne said.

Labor went to the 2007 election promising to preserve the Howard government's system for four years, and in the 2010 campaign sought to neutralise the issue by promising to extend those arrangements until the end of next year. Mr Garrett said Labor had boosted funding while the Coalition had promised cuts.


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