WA Premier Defends 457 Visa School Charge

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says 457 visa holders deserve more information about plans next year to slug them $4000 a year for their child's education.

AAP Newswire, 11 September 2013

While the details were still being thrashed out, Mr Barnett admitted parents on 457 visas deserved clarity soon.

He said the state government was trying to be fair, but the average annual cost of providing a public school student's education was about $15,000 and it was reasonable 457 visa holders be made to contribute some of that cost.

"We think 457s should pay some part, probably less than a third of the cost of that," he told Fairfax Radio on Wednesday.

"I'm not particularly happy about doing this, but the numbers in our system are so great.

"And while you and others pay your taxes, that unfortunately doesn't flow to the state government or to the cost of providing education for your children."

Mr Barnett also denied the opposition's claim that more than 500 full-time equivalent teachers would be axed from the public schools system, on top of recently revealed plans to cut 350 education assistants and 150 support staff.

WA opposition leader Mark McGowan made the claim in parliament on Tuesday, citing a State School Teachers' Union estimate, saying the premier had reneged on a promise not to axe teachers and dubbing him "the Grand Poobah of avoiding the truth about the changes that he makes".

"No, he's wrong," Mr Barnett said.

"We've made it very clear that the number of teachers in the education system will stay basically constant through 2014 and then growth will continue in 2015 ... as student population goes up."

WA was one of the states that refused to sign up to the Gonski education program, now known as Better Schools.

Mr Barnett was not swayed in June when then-prime minister Julia Gillard trebled the offer to $920 million, saying he objected to the design of the plan as it would hand control of state schools to the Commonwealth.

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