Education Minister Christopher Pyne.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne. Contributed

Pyne: Education funding “cupboard is bare”

EDUCATION Minister Christopher Pyne has said the education funding "cupboard is bare" on Wednesday, despite finding an extra $230 million for states which have not signed up to Labor's school reforms.

Mr Pyne on Tuesday would not comment on whether he had sought extra funds from Treasurer Joe Hockey to plug what he called a $1.2 billion cut from his budget.

But today, Mr Pyne said he had found the extra $230 million to support education in Queensland, West Australia and the Northern Territory, despite previously denying there was any money left.

He said he had confirmed the extra funds on Tuesday, but did not release the information then, due to "processes of government".

Mr Pyne said the money would see Queensland get $131 million, WA get $31 million and the NT get $67 million for education in 2014.

But the money was found through "offsets" in the education portfolio; despite refusing to say what other priorities would be cut.

Mr Pyne instead referred questions about the budgetary position to the release of the mid-year budget update, promised some time before Christmas.

His comments came as a raft of state premiers unleashed on him, including New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill demanding signed education agreements be delivered.

Mr Weatherill said Mr Pyne would even face a campaign from his state government until he promised future years of the school funding reforms would be delivered.

But Mr Pyne said he never said, or intended, that a Coalition would fund the Gonski agreements past four years, after revealing this week he did not intend to continue the same arrangement past 2014.

He said while the Abbott Government remained committed to delivering the same "funding envelope" as Labor, he would work to ensure "every student is a first-class student" by 2015.

Mr Pyne said states which had signed the agreements "should not assume they will lose any money at all", and he had done better than the previous government to return the $230 million.

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