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Labor's education policy targeted to shore up Catholic vote

Catholic schools in a clutch of NSW marginal seats would be the big winners from Labor's promise to inject an additional $1 billion into struggling schools.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that under Labor's education policy, which pledges $850 million more over the next five years than the Coalition, the extra money would go to schools with a large proportion of disadvantaged or disabled students. But more than half of the schools on the preliminary list of NSW schools targeted by the policy are Catholic systemic schools and all but four of these are in marginal seats.

Most of the Catholic schools on the list, released yesterday, are in Coalition seats, including Eden-Monaro, Page, Richmond and Paterson, which Labor is aiming to win at the election.

Of the 11 NSW public schools identified as severely disadvantaged, nine are in safe Labor seats, one is in Macarthur, which the Liberals hold by 7%, and one is in the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro.

The office of Labor's education spokeswoman, Jenny Macklin, last night dismissed suggestions of pork barrelling, saying that schools in communities right across the country would benefit from the policy. "The schools listed are just examples of the types of schools that will benefit," her spokeswoman said.

But the Herald says Labor leader Mark Latham may have to go further to convince the NSW Council of Catholic School Parents, which yesterday accused Labor of failing to recognise parents' contributions to raising standards in government and non-government schools.

Labor's education policy shores up Catholic vote (Sydney Morning Herald 16/9/04)

Fee-creep worry as Latham gets a kick out of policy (Daily Telegraph 16/9/04)
Hundreds `forced to leave schools' (The Advertiser 16/9/04)
Labor's education policy shores up Catholic vote (Sydney Morning Herald 16/9/04)
Religious schooling and how it is funded is a key election issue (Online Opinion 15/9/04)

16 Sep 2004