Warren Lynam

UNION: Libs school funding idea to 'entrench inequality'

THE national teachers' union has warned an idea floated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to end federal funding for the nation's public schools could "entrench inequality".   Mr Turnbull is seeking state premiers' support for the Federal Government to cut health and education spending in return for a share of Canberra's income tax revenue.   In an interview on ABC Radio on yesterday morning, he indicated he was prepared to completely withdraw federal funding from public schools run by state governments.   The same would not apply to private schools.   Mr Turnbull said he was not confident the states would fund private and independent schools, so under his proposal the Commonwealth would continue to fund them.   Several state premiers and treasurers, including leaders from Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia, went public with their opposition to the idea.   Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Turnbull appeared to have decided fixing up the school system was "too hard for him" and he was dumping responsibility in "the lap of the states".   Mr Shorten ruled out any changes to the Labor Party's policy of having the federal government playing a key role in funding the education system.   Australian Education Union deputy federal president Maurie Mulheron described the plan as a "disaster" that could further entrench the divide between wealthier students at private schools and poorer students at public schools.   He said it seemed the Federal Government's plan was simply to "abandon its responsibilities".    In response, Mr Turnbull said the idea had not come "out of the blue" and reiterated his comment that there was a "very powerful case" for the states to take full responsibility for public schools.   He said if the states had a share of income tax revenue, they would spend "more wisely".