Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard revealed this week that the onus for funding federal Labor's digital education revolution will fall more heavily on the states than first expected, prompting raised eyebrows from some and the ire of the Opposition.
The federal Labor government's digital education revolution received its final clearance from all levels of government at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Adelaide late last month.
While the question of funding has been raised before, COAG approval of the policy has shifted the spotlight to how much of the initiative the federal government will bankroll.
"Of course states and territories have been making their own efforts in this area," said Deputy PM and Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, at a press conference.
"They're delighted to see a federal government that's prepared to work in partnership with them and invest an extra billion dollars that would not have been available to them had it not been for the Rudd Labor government's promise," she said.
The Deputy Prime Minister's comments prompted further questioning, with one journalist asking why the states should be funding the federal government's election promises, to which Gillard replied: "Clearly you want to work together in a strategic partnership and you want to deal with the co-investment issues. That's what we're going to do."
"Julia Gillard is asking the states not to 'hinder' its plans to deliver computers to schools — even though it's now expected to cost them up to AU$3 billion on top of the federal government's AU$1 billion," said Federal Opposition Education spokesperson, Victorian MP Tony Smith.
Smith said the ongoing expenses of the policy such as teacher training, electricity and air conditioning would lead to a "blowout" in costs, which may be passed on to the states or to parents at Catholic and Independent schools.
"Obviously these costs will be passed on to parents in the form of higher school fees or even more fundraising," he said.
"Given the state government's track record on funding education, I doubt they will cough up the extra AU$3 billion required to actually use these computers."
After commissioning an IT audit of secondary schools nationwide, the federal government will be allocating its first AU$100 million in funding to those schools found to have extremely limited numbers of computers to share between students.