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School principals targeted by Labor

Getty

Getty

The federal Opposition will launch an appeal to public school principals as part of a new campaign over education funding.

Labor says it will write to every public school principal in Australia, after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the prospect of the Commonwealth withdrawing funding for the public school system and handing over responsibility to the states.

A petition will also be launched on Wednesday.

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Turnbull’s remarks showed he was “out of touch” and called on school principals to share Labor’s alternative plan.

“It’s not that Mr Turnbull and his Liberals can’t afford to fund public schools, it is that they’re choosing not to,” Mr Shorten said in a statement.

Mr Shorten opposed the idea.

Mr Shorten opposes the idea. Photo: AAP

“I want every teacher and every parent to know that Labor is on their side against Mr Turnbull’s attacks.”

Mr Turnbull said he would be in favour of the federal government eventually withdrawing funding from the public school system and handing over responsibility to the states.

The Commonwealth would continue to fund private and independent schools.

He said it could be possible if the states took more control of income tax revenue, in a plan that was quickly abandoned following discussions with premiers and chief ministers last week.

Labor’s Education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said the idea would be disastrous and that anger was quickly building within the public school system.

“We’ve already heard that school communities are absolutely outraged by the Prime Minister’s proposal,” she said.

“We will be talking to parents, we will be talking to teachers and we will be talking to the general community to let them know that Malcolm Turnbull is not just trying to introduce the biggest cuts to school funding in this nation’s history, but that he wants to walk away from public school funding altogether.”

The federal Opposition has promised to fund the full six-year plan of the Gonski school funding deal, struck by former prime minister Julia Gillard in 2013, at a cost of $37 billion.

Mr Turnbull has since described the original deal as a “fantasy”, saying the final years of the six-year agreement with the states were never properly budgeted for.

The Coalition has begun negotiations for a new agreement with the states for the final two years of the Gonski plan, but New South Wales wants a deal before the next federal election.

– ABC

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