Release type: Joint Media Release


Abbott and Pyne’s letter to school principals gets an ‘F’ for accuracy


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research
Leader of the Government in the Senate

Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne have been caught out telling blatant untruths to school principals about Labor’s education spending.

In the latest example of Liberal dirty tricks, Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne have been writing to schools around the country claiming the mid-year budget update included cuts to schools and tertiary education.

This is simply wrong. Never ones to let facts get in the way of their aggressive negativity, the Liberals are being recklessly misleading in their attempts to alarm principals, teachers and parents.

The only change to school education funding this year comes because Liberal state governments have been slashing their schools spending, which has a flow-on effect to Commonwealth funding. The reason for this is because under the funding model introduced by the Howard Government, indexation to schools is linked to how much state governments invest in public education.

This has resulted in the indexation rate reducing from 5.4% to 3.9% - changes that Christopher Pyne supported in September this year.

A recent analysis has found that this could mean schools across Australia miss out on more than $2 billion because of the broken school funding system that the Liberals have pledged to keep.

No wonder there were reports in the media this week that NSW Liberal MPs have been banned from their local school speech nights – the Liberals have shown they don’t care about schools or TAFEs through their savage $1.7 billion cuts.

And while the Gillard Government has made an unprecedented investment in higher education, skills and training, the Liberal Party plans to increase fees and restrict access.

The Gillard Government has opened up access to university to all Australians with the ability – no matter where they come from or what their bank balance is. On the other hand, Tony Abbott will slash access to university and leave students with massive education debts.

The Liberal Party has announced its plans to restrict university education to the privileged few by reintroducing full fee paying students and placing a cap on university places

These two policies will see student fees increase up to $300,000 for a degree and slash student numbers by 130,000 over the next five years.

The Gillard Government has invested more than $43.2 billion in core university funding from 2008 to 2011 – a 50 per cent increase on the previous four years under the Howard Government.

In the four years from 2012 to 2015 the Government will invest a further $58.9 billion – $30.1 billion in additional funding for universities, more than double the level of funding under the last four years of the Howard government.

We’ve also doubled funding for schools compared to the last Government, and have made record investments in early childhood education and care.

Mr Abbott’s letter to school principals also included details of the Coalition’s so-called plan for Australian schools. But every single element of this ‘new plan’ is already being delivered by Labor.

It’s clear that Liberal Party has no long-term vision for Australian schools besides sticking to the status quo, which an independent review found has led to decline in our international performance and too many disadvantaged students being left behind.

Today we’ve introduced the Australian Education Bill which sets out our commitment to making our schools among the best in the world and introducing a fair school funding system.

Only two members of the Opposition could be bothered to be in Parliament for this landmark bill and Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne were nowhere to be seen.

Only Labor has a plan to improve Australian schools and universities and to give Australian student access to a great education.