4 April 2014

A Senate Committee has uncovered the Abbott Government's sneaky plan to undermine the six year Gonski school funding agreement signed with Tasmania.

Newly released documents reveal Education Minister Christopher Pyne sat on his hands and did not approve Tasmania's implementation plan for more than three months, before using a legal loophole to declare the state 'non-participating' for the purpose of the Gonski school funding reforms.

"This is a calculated legal move designed to break the six year school funding agreement the Premier signed with the Prime Minister last year," Kate Ellis, Shadow Education Minister, said.

"Tasmania fulfilled its requirements on 5 August last year, but the Abbott Government refused to sign a document before the 1 January deadline".

While South Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory have been formally classified as 'participating' in the Gonski reforms, the Abbott Government has turned its back on the promises it made to Tasmania.

"We will honour the agreements that Labor has entered into. We will match the offers that Labor has made. We will make sure that no school is worse off."
(Tony Abbott, Press Conference, 2 August 2013)

"$380 million in additional funding for Tasmanian schools is on the line," Kate Ellis said.

"Tony Abbott is getting ready for more cuts to education, and it's clear he's looking to wriggle out of funding the vital fifth and sixth years of the reforms".

The Tasmanian Liberals went to the election pledging to deliver the full six years of the Gonski reforms.

"Will Hodgman should not be silent about this. He should be demanding Tony Abbott keep his promise to Tasmania. This is the Premier's first big test," Kate Ellis said.

"If Will Hodgman does not stand up to Tony Abbott, every student in every school will be left behind the mainland states".

The Senate Select Committee on School Funding is conducting hearings in Hobart today.