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The Abbott government has pulled down the Better Schools website as it works out how it will handle the school funding reforms started by Labor.
The website allowed people to see the six-year deals the commonwealth struck with NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT to roll out the new system set to begin in January, but the Coalition’s commitment is limited to the first four years.
The site also included a search tool that allowed people to type in a school name and find out the notional amount of extra funding it would be entitled to by the sixth year.
The website at betterschools.gov.au was accessible last week but now contains only the Australian government logo and a message that it is “temporarily unavailable”.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said the site was being updated.
“Following the election, all website content is being reviewed,” he said.
The spokesman would not say what information was being removed and when the site was expected to be back online.
The Australian Education Union – a key voice in pushing Labor to adopt the David Gonski-inspired funding reforms – described the removal of the website as a “bad sign”, while Labor MP Andrew Leigh tweeted that it was a bad omen.
Parliament passed legislation to set up the new school funding system – targeting disadvantage – just before Kevin Rudd ousted Julia Gillard as prime minister in June.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne now faces the prospect of renegotiating already settled school deals, as he works to match Labor’s promised federal funding over four years rather than the full six years.
The majority of the multibillion-dollar boost to funding was due to be delivered in the final two years but Mr Pyne always argued these post-budget-cycle promises could not be trusted.
Mr Pyne told Fairfax Media last month he was working calmly and methodically to treat everyone “fairly” and “sort out the mess” that Labor created.
But he did not explain his specific plan, saying he did not want to reveal what actions he would take until he had a proper chance to consult with the states, the territories and the department.
Fairfax Media reported last week the government would face fresh demands from states that signed school funding agreements before the election if the hold-out jurisdictions of Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory were lured with more favourable offers.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.