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Pell denies link between Uni rent and curriculum change

Cardinal George Pell has said that questions of the Australian Catholic University's curriculum and its rental agreement with the Archdiocese are quite separate and not co-dependent as suggested by a recent report in the Australian Financial Review.

The paper claimed last week that the Cardinal was using the incentive of reduced rent to convince the University to include compulsory religious studies in its curriculum.

The Cardinal has told the Catholic Weekly that a rental review agreement was finalised "well before [he] became Archbishop" in 2001.

The ACU, a public university funded by the Federal Government, occupies two Sydney properties at Strathfield and North Sydney. Under the agreement the Church properties were leased at a peppercorn rent for 10 years and then the rent was to be reviewed.

He said the rental charged to the University by the Archdiocese is "well below market rental".

"I understand the payment of rent by ACU for some of its properties is not uncommon," he said. "ACU negotiated the agreement with the archdiocese whereby the rent would be reviewed in 2003."

"The management fee under this agreement has now been determined, at a rate well below market rental and with a five-year phasing-in period. This determination has been made without any reference to ACU courses or curriculum."

Cardinal Pell said there was limited patrimony available for the archdiocese to use and that a disproportionate amount had been given to the ACU in the past.

"New projects are being considered which need to be funded, and it is no longer appropriate to subsidise ACU's operations to the same level. But archdiocesan generosity to ACU will continue. For many years I have been pushing for changes to the curriculum. Little has changed."

'Fees below market rental' (Catholic Weekly 19/9/04)

Pell in rent bargain with Australian Catholic University (CathNews 9/9/04)
Pell offers rent break for more religion in uni (Australian Financial Review 9/9/04)
ACU head reveals surprise at Notre Dame Uni announcement (CathNews 4/8/04)
Notre Dame welcomes Federal support for Sydney campus (CathNews 2/8/04)
Who puts the 'R' in Catholic? Who puts the 'C' in Liberal Arts? 'We Do!' (ABC Religion Report 12/5/04)
ACU National

17 Sep 2004