Acting Education Minister George Cash today accused Opposition education spokesman John Halden of gross hypocrisy and scaremongering in relation to the voluntary school levies for primary and secondary schools in Western Australia.
Mr Cash said Mr Halden had based his comments on a Federal Parliamentary memorandum on national school fees which did not reflect an accurate picture of the various fee structures for schools in each State.
He said the memo was not an `in-depth analysis' and had been largely sourced from information gathered from various newspapers.
“Mr Halden seems content to gloss over the facts in pursuit of a good story by quoting a document which is not 100 per cent accurate,” Mr Cash said.
“It is another example of Mr Halden making cheap comments for basic political gain.”
Mr Cash said under the previous Labor Government the voluntary fees had more than doubled from $100 in 1985 to $205 in 1993 for secondary students in years 8 to 10.
“Mr Halden is a gross hypocrite when making a political pledge to cap school fees at $100, when the previous Labor Government was responsible for doubling the school levy burden on WA families,” he said.
Mr Cash said the $9 fee for a primary school student had not changed in more than 20 years since it was set in 1972.
Voluntary school levies varied widely on a school-to-school basis in each State with each school applying different conditions and it was very difficult to compare without the specific details.
“In NSW the levy can be up to $600 at certain secondary schools - a marked difference from the figure of $456 which is quoted in the memo - and up to $407 in Tasmanian secondary schools which is nearly a 25 per cent increase on the stated amount of $320,” Mr Cash said.
The Acting Education Minister said that in Victoria, school fees and levies made up approximately 11 per cent of the school’s total budget with a further six per cent from the fundraising efforts of the student/parent body.
“In WA, schools fees and levies make up 2.52 per cent of the school’s total budget with 0.42 per cent coming from voluntary fundraising efforts,” he said.
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