Pyne rejects Abbott schools ‘loser’ remark

Former prime minister Tony Abbott at a press conference at Parliament House on March 23. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Former prime minister Tony Abbott at a press conference at Parliament House on March 23. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas


Former education minister Christopher Pyne rejects Tony Abbott’s claim the coalition is ‘on a loser’ if its schools funding changes disadvantage Catholics.

The former prime minister expects the Turnbull government’s package will be heavily discussed in the party room ahead of Tuesday’s budget.

Mr Abbott on Thursday told students at Mandurah Catholic College south of Perth any move by the Commonwealth to ‘relatively disadvantage’ independent and Catholic schools and advantage public schools was wrong.

‘Knowing a little bit about politics I suspect that the government will decide that it’s on a loser if it does anything that looks like it’s disadvantaging Catholic schools,’ he said.

Mr Abbott also on Thursday met with the National Catholic Education Commission’s Tim McDonald, later tweeting they had discussed the importance of a ‘fair go’ for low fee private schools.

But Mr Pyne insisted Catholic schools will pocket more money under ‘good reforms’.

‘Catholic schools are getting a billion dollar increase in spending and a 3.7 per cent rise in spending over the next 10 years so how anybody could feel they are losing when they are getting a billion dollars extra is beyond me,’ he told Nine Network on Friday.

Meanwhile, acting prime minister Barnaby Joyce denies any coalition MPs have contacted him to express concerns about the plan, adding it was a matter for the joint party room.

Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said Labor would support cuts to 24 ‘wealthy’ schools and reduced funding for 353 other schools, as would happen under the government’s plan.

The government’s package will ultimately increase federal money for schools from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $30.6 billion by 2027.

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