Government on brink of passing school funding package

 abc.net.au  6/20/2017 2:28:12 PM   political reporter Eliza Borrello

Updated June 21, 2017 00:31:16

The Federal Government could be on the brink of getting enough votes to pass its multi-billion dollar school funding package.

The Greens are expected to make a decision on whether they will back the bill this morning, while the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) said it has had encouraging discussions with the Coalition and is waiting for a written guarantee its demands will be met.

The Government is putting the legislation up for debate in the Senate this morning.

Nationals frontbencher Matt Canavan is optimistic about its chances of getting through.

"I think this is a great advance and let's hope we can get the support of it in the Parliament," he said.

The package has enraged the Catholic education sector, which argued it should not have money taken away from it and given to other schools.

But Senator Canavan is one of a number of Catholic Coalition MPs who have been making the case for the legislation.

"I think this is a great advance in terms of education funding in Australia," he said.

"It's a difficult goal to achieve to make sure that we put a needs-based system in place, that it's consistent for all students across the country," he said.

Last night Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm said he was still a 50-50 chance of backing the legislation but does not want it to become more expensive.

"If they [the Government] do a deal with the Greens for example, the Greens want to put more money into public schools, government schools, if that significantly increases the amount of money taxpayers have to shell out then you know I may find that I can't support it, that the status quo is better than supporting an amended bill," he said.

The Government needs 10 votes to pass the bill — 11 if it cannot pacify the concerns of outgoing West Australian Liberal senator Chris Back, who argues Catholic schools are being unfairly targeted.

It already has the support of Pauline Hanson's One Nation and Victorian senator Derryn Hinch and is working hard to cut a deal with the Greens and the NXT.

Senator Leyonhjelm said it was unclear how Family First senator Lucy Gichuhi will vote.

"She does tend to vote with the Government on economic things so if that's any guide perhaps they can count on her," he said.

Like Senator Leyonhjelm, South Australian senator Cory Bernardi is cautioning the Government against spending more money on the package.

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie is yet to say how she will vote.

Topics: education, government-and-politics, federal-government, schools, budget, australia

First posted June 21, 2017 00:28:12

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