THE federal government has distanced itself from a leaked discussion paper that suggested wealthy parents should pay for their children to go to public schools.
The controversial proposal is one of four funding reform options outlined in the education discussion paper and could spell the end to free access to education if implemented.
Treasurer Joe Hockey was quick to point out on Monday the proposal was not government policy and it had no plans whatsoever to implement the mooted reforms contained in the report.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne also took to social media to categorically rule out the proposal.
"Charging wealthy parents for their children to attend public schools is not the government's policy. I do not support it," he tweeted.
"If the states and territories want to charge wealthy parents fees for public schools that is a matter for them.
"The Australian Government does not and will not support a means test for public education. Full stop. End of story."
Other funding options outlined in the proposal include giving the states and territories full responsibility for all schools, making states and territories fully responsible for funding public schools, reducing Commonwealth involvement in schools or making the federal government the dominant funder of all schools.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday any changes to the public education system would be the responsibility of each state and territory.
Should the wealthy pay to send their kids to a public school?
This poll ended on 30 June 2015.
Yes. They hardly pay enough tax now
No. Public education is a right
Depends on how wealthy they are
No. But government shouldn't fund private schools
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
He said the government did not have any role in the running of public schools.
"What happens with public schools is absolutely a matter for states and territories," he said.
"I think it is good that some of the states and territories at least are thinking creatively about how they can responsibly fund their operations.
"But any question of how you fund public schools in terms of what contribution parents might be expected to make is absolutely a matter for the states and territories."
But Labor's acting education spokesman Mark Butler said the leak proved the government was getting ready to wash its hands of every school in the country.
"There will be fewer teachers, larger classes, resources will be stretched and students will receive less support," he said.
"Fees will rise in non-government schools and fees will be imposed on government schools.
"No one will be exempt ... every student in every school will be hurt."
Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe said in a statement it was a fundamental right of every Australian to be educated in public schools free of charge.