Treasury's top official has taken another swipe at the Education Department, declaring he did not understand its controversial $600-per-teacher leave liability levy and did not think it would work.
The levy was imposed by the department on every public school after the August State Budget in a bid to address its failure to meet Treasurer Troy Buswell's edict that leave liabilities be capped at June 2012 levels.
The Education Department failed to meet its cap in 2012-13, allowing leave liabilities to blow out an extra $58.7 million last financial year.
Under-Treasurer Tim Marney yesterday told the education and health standing committee Treasury had no input into the levy - which effectively cuts individual schools' funding by $600 per teacher and $400 per support staff.
Mr Marney said he did not understand how the policy worked, given it would do nothing to reduce leave liabilities on the Government's balance sheet.
"It's pretty straightforward," Mr Marney said. "You've actually got to send people on leave. I don't know how it works. And I don't know if it can. It's still being communicated to us and we're still trying to understand it. But from what I can gather from the information we do have, the levy is really a tool to fund the 'back filling' of teachers who have been sent on leave. Whether or not it achieves the full amount (of savings needed), I remain sceptical."
During parliamentary hearings into the education budget, Mr Marney and education bureaucrats, including director-general Sharyn O'Neill, have taken veiled shots at each other's policies and processes.
At Budget estimates hearings in September, Ms O'Neill and Education Minister Peter Collier said the Education Department had had little to no input into the Government's decision to charge $4000 school fees to children of workers on the 457 visa scheme - an idea that originated with Treasury - and it had only "informal" input into the policy at officer level.
Mr Marney said the critical variable - the number of affected students - was provided by Education's deputy chief financial officer.
The initial estimate, and therefore budget revenue, was worked out on the assumption there were 8600 affected students. There were only 4000 students.Mr Marney said he learnt of the changed numbers only after Premier Colin Barnett said the fee would be delayed a year.