Bill Shorten has formally offered Catholic schools an extra $250 million in the first two years of office and billions of dollars over 10 years if Labor wins the next election. Source: The Australian.
In an extraordinary letter to the Church’s leadership, the Opposition Leader pledged the ALP would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the Catholic system in the wake of a bruising battle with the Coalition over schools funding, which threatens campus closures in some states.
The pledge comes after Education Minister Simon Birmingham backed a new funding deal that was designed to phase out what critics argued was gold-plating of the Catholic sector.
If Labor is elected, Mr Shorten’s letter promises the Catholic sector will be more than $250m better off in the first two years of government and billions over the decade as part of the ALP’s pledge to reinstate past funding promises totalling $17 billion.
He also said the Catholic sector had been treated unfairly by the Coalition, which reduced the rate of funding indexation for all schools and increased the amount of private income many primary schools were expected to raise.
“When it comes to school funding, my party stands shoulder to shoulder with the Church,” Mr Shorten said in a letter to Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Denis Hart this week.
The letter marks formal confirmation that Labor will fall in behind the Catholic sector, having held a string of private meetings in recent months.
Under the Birmingham model, over the 10 years of the Gonski 2.0 vision, Catholic schools will receive a smaller percentage lift in funding than public and independent schools. This is part of the strategy of the Coalition to undo old funding deals it argues were biased towards the Catholic sector and claims that the Catholic sector is already ahead of other systems.
This ignores, however, the core issue of the ability of Catholic parents to pay, compared with wealthy independent schools.
Senator Birmingham said Mr Shorten was making promises he couldn’t keep. “Bill Shorten should release the letters he’s sent the education unions about public school funding, to independent schools and to other school systems so everyone can see all the promises he’s making.’’
Labor fires Catholic schools funding war with $250m promise (The Australian)