Barnaby Joyce warns Tony Abbott over education policy critique

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    Barnaby Joyce warns Tony Abbott over education policy critique

    Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has rebuked Tony Abbott for speaking out against the schools funding overhaul, expressing his “frustration” at his colleague’s undermining.
    Mr Abbott has warned of a “vigorous” Coalition partyroom debate over the reforms on Tuesday, hours ahead of the handing down of the 2017 budget, and said the government would be “on a loser” if it disadvantaged Catholic schools.
    In the two days since Education Minister Simon Birmingham unveiled the extra $18.6 billion for schools over 10 years as part of Gonski 2.0, Mr Abbott has repeatedly cautioned the reforms cannot allow the government to depart from the tradition of Menzies, who made a historic policy shift and gave Catholic schools federal funding.
    Mr Joyce declared it was “very easy to have a strong statement” when you were not surrounded by those who disagreed with you and urged Mr Abbott to speak in the partyroom instead.
    “Of course I find it frustrating, I always try to be straight with you, of course I find it frustrating. I always say ‘if you’ve got something to say you stand up in the room and say it’,” he told ABC radio.

    “What’s the point of this meeting if people want to say it everywhere else?
    “The joint partyroom gives him every opportunity to stand up and say ‘I tell you what I think about this’. And that’s why we have a democratic institution ... we celebrate that right.”
    Mr Joyce also questioned if Mr Abbott, who has pledged to continue to speak “candidly” on issues of concern to conservatives, was attempting to “sabotage” the policy.
    “I hope he’s not but if he’s got a huge problem with it, joint partyroom he’ll be able to stand at the front of the room and give his views on that and that is entirely his right,” he said.
    Under the sweeping changes, funding for 24 elite private and Catholic schools will go backwards, 353 schools will get a lower share and 9000 mostly government schools will receive more money.
    Catholic schools fear a $100 million blow to their federal funding, raising the spectre of a “funding cliff” in four years that could force them to raise fees for all parents.
    Senator Birmingham has pointed out the Catholic system will see an additional $1.07 billion over the next four years when compared to what the Abbott government delivered in its 2014 budget.
    Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne dismissed suggestions “anybody could feel that they’re losing” as a result.
    “The reforms are great,” he told the Nine Network’s Today show.
    “I notice yesterday Labor trying to run a scare campaign in the morning and (education spokeswoman) Tanya Plibersek saying they wouldn’t put any extra money in the afternoon. So Labor is all at sea and we’re just getting on with the job.
    “I’m not going to comment on Tony Abbott’s remarks, I’m not a commentator on my colleagues. The reality is it’s the good reform, we’ve resolved the warfare between the sectors, between the states. Labor left us with a dog’s breakfast, 27 different agreements, and it didn’t really implement the Gonski model at all.”
    But Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the “ongoing dogfight” in the Coalition was “just unbelievable”.
    “You’ve got Tony Abbott out there, you speak about ending the warfare, the warfare’s ongoing in the Liberal Party. Tony Abbott and (Liberal MP) Andrew Hastie visiting schools to campaign against the Turnbull government, this is extraordinary in the lead up to a budget next Tuesday.
    “TA has said that there’ll be a showdown in the partyroom next week about this issue but I’m sure about other issues as well.”
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