Govt, Opposition battle over Catholic education

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop says that Catholic and independent schools have reason to be concerned about their funding under a Labor Government but Opposition Education spokesman Stephen Smith insists private schools will not miss out.

The Australian reports that Labor has foreshadowed funding increases for public primary schools if elected, despite pledging its education funding model would not leave private schools worse off.

Addressing an Australian Education Union (AEU) forum in Canberra today, Opposition education spokesman Stephen Smith said a Rudd government would focus education spending on government primary schools, especially those in rural and regional areas.

"We need to make a much greater investment in primary schools, particularly government primary schools," he said.

"But we won't be taking money off any school.

"Just as the Commonwealth has a central obligation to fund universities appropriately and adequately, so the Commonwealth ... has a moral obligation to fund government schools."

Mr Smith was forced to clarify Labor's schools funding policy after reports of a clause in its national platform said a Labor government would consider a school's income from private sources when deciding how much money a school would receive.

It was "not possible for schools to lose money or be worse off" under a Rudd government, he said, and Labor would continue indexation of schools funding.

However, Education Minister Bishop said Labor was captive to the AEU's agenda and wanted to strip independent and Catholic schools of public money.

"The ALP remains committed to a funding model that formed the basis of the discredited hit list," Ms Bishop said.

Labor was misleading the public about its true intentions by sending confusing messages about schools funding designed to appease the Catholic and independent sector, she said.

Labor promises not penalise private schools (News.com.au, 14/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Julie Bishop MP, Federal Member for Curtin
Stephen Smith (ALP)
Department of Education, Science and Training

Catholic school "windfall" attacked (CathNews, 20/11/06)
Two-tier grading system no impact on Catholic schools (CathNews, 27/9/06)

14 Jun 2007