Howard, Rudd promise $15 million more for WYD

Describing next year's World Youth Day in Sydney as a great opportunity to showcase Australia, Prime Minister John Howard has agreed to a request from Cardinal George Pell for another $15 million in federal funding while Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has also endorsed the funding increase saying that "the event will be huge".

News.com.au reports that Cardinal George Pell, and Mr Howard recently held talks about the 500,000 pilgrims expected in Sydney for World Youth Day in July next year.

Mr Howard announced that the commonwealth would contribute an extra $15 million on top of the $20 million it already has committed after a request from the Catholics for more funding for the event.

"World Youth Day will be a great opportunity to showcase Sydney, Australia, and the youth of our country to the world," Mr Howard said.

The Brisbane Times reports that Federal opposition leader Kevin Rudd said today that Labor would pledge the same amount.

"This is a major event for the Catholic community, for the wider Christian community in Australia, and an important event for Australia itself," Mr Rudd told reporters at the Brisbane Show.

"In my recent discussions with Catholic bishops, it is plain we are going to have upwards of half a million visitors to this country to this event in Sydney next year. It's going to be huge," he said.

"It's going to put stresses on the infrastructure of that city's ability to cope and we think we should make a contribution."

The event would be good publicity for Australia on the international stage through televised coverage.

"A visit by His Holiness the Pope is always an important event for this country, he will be a welcome guest in Australia."

Meanwhile, in another story, Mr Rudd has promised another $20 million to beef up security at schools, including religious schools, assessed to be at risk, the Herald-Sun reports.

Mr Rudd announced the commitment after media reports that Prime Minister John Howard is due to announce the Government's own school security plan.

It is understood the Government's plan would offer tax-free status to donations received by religious schools and related premises, such as synagogues, for security needs.

Mr Rudd said Labor's $20 million cash offer over the next four years was more immediate than the Government's plan.

"It is fundamentally different. Here is a cash fund now to assist schools with security, as opposed to a tax deductibility arrangement later for private contributions to security," Mr Rudd said.

"Security is a fundamental right of every Australian kid. That is, a right to study in a secure and safe environment."

Mr Rudd said vandalism and daily security were state responsibilities but when national and international issues turned the focus on religious or secular schools, it was the federal government's responsibility to help in aiding their protection.

"There are a number of threats to school communities where questions of religious affiliation, questions of racial hatred are involved ... as a nation we've got a responsibility to act," Mr Rudd said.

World Youth Day gets $15m funding boost (News.com.au, 12/8/07)
$15m govt splurge for pope's visit (Brisbane Times, 12/8/07)
Schools promised more security (Herald Sun, 10/8/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day 2008

Condoms not on for WYD (CathNews, 30/7/07)
Love in the air for WYD (CathNews, 24/7/07)
Young Christians helping WYD pilgrims get piece of action (CathNews, 19/7/07)
Open hearts to WYD pilgrims, Fisher urges Sydney (CathNews, 17/7/07)
Can't lease Randwick for WYD, trainers tell club (CathNews, 11/7/07)
Randwick no place for pope, opines Cup winner Cummings (CathNews, 10/7/07)
Pope set to come, trainers to sue over WYD (CathNews, 5/7/07)
WYD Cross arrives amid Randwick turmoil (CathNews, 2/7/07)
Randwick trainers "emotional" over WYD compensation (CathNews, 29/6/07)
Trainers still jumpy about WYD (CathNews, 26/6/07)
Guy's WYD song to welcome cross and icon (CathNews, 25/6/07)
US leads Australia in WYD registrations (CathNews, 15/5/07)
Aussie idol to sing WYD theme song (CathNews, 14/5/07)
Give young people WYD opportunities, nuncio says (CathNews, 11/5/07)
Sydney airport can't handle all WYD visitors, Pell says (CathNews, 2/5/07)
Thousands already on way to WYD (CathNews, 30/4/07)
Trainers seek $12 million compo over Benedict's WYD visit (CathNews, 23/4/07)
Telstra chief signs on for WYD (CathNews, 20/4/07)
Tsunami town welcomes WYD cross (CathNews, 19/4/07)
WYD Cross to visit tsunami-hit Gizo (CathNews, 5/4/07)
WYD Cross at N Korea border (CathNews, 1/3/07)
Race industry fears over WYD "chaos" (CathNews, 19/3/07)
Canberra parish launches live-in WYD community (CathNews, 6/3/07)
Free tourist visas for WYD participants (CathNews, 5/3/07)
500,000 crosses for WYD (CathNews, 2/3/07)

13 Aug 2007