Confusion continues within the Coalition, with the release of the Nationals’ WA Education Platform on school fees in stark contrast to that of the State Liberal Party.
Education and Training Minister Alan Carpenter said the Nationals’ platform confirmed the constant confusion and communication breakdown within the Coalition on major election issues.
“Colin Barnett has proposed paying all of the compulsory component of school fees,” Mr Carpenter said.
“Then you have the National Party saying it will ‘retain a minimal school fee structure’.
“The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.
“How do people know what they are voting for when there is such a clear inconsistency in policies - or are they still only position statements?”
Mr Carpenter said that when last in government, the Liberals increased primary school charges by more than 650 per cent.
“Colin Barnett also made secondary school fees compulsory and in 1998, he suggested that parents who did not pay school fees were ‘bludgers’*,” the Minister said.
“And the Liberal Party’s Shadow Education Minister John Day said of the current $135 contribution - ‘it’s not a lot to ask on an individual basis’**.”
Mr Carpenter said the Nationals’ education platform also made it clear they did not support raising the school leaving age.
"Here we have the most significant change to education and training in 50 years and what do we get from the Nationals?" he said.
“Only the Labor Party is committed to the structural change our education and training system so desperately needs.
“The Gallop Government has had massive State-wide support of its intention to raise the school leaving age to 16 by 2006 and 17 by 2008.
“Under Labor, raising the school leaving age for young people means doing nothing will no longer be an option.
“For the Nationals, doing nothing appears to be core policy.”
Minister's office: 9213 6800
* Hansard June 17, 1998 p4170
**Media Statement John Day MLA January 31, 2003