An Anglican school group yesterday flagged a possible constitutional challenge to the Howard Government's new funding arrangements, on the grounds they favour Catholic systemic schools.
    The Australian reports predictions that non-Catholic religious school systems will disintegrate. Under the new model, funding for new schools entering the non-Catholic systems will be determined by the socio-economic status of their client families, allocated to the system on an aggregate basis.
    The differential treatment arises because, to fulfil an undertaking made prior to the last election, the Government has set funding for the Catholic school system at 56 per cent of the average cost of educating a child in a government school. Any new school entering the Catholic system will be funded at that level irrespective of its socio-economic status rating.
    The chief executive officer of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, Guy Yeomans, said: "The question would have to be raised, is (the different treatment) constitutional, because the Constitution clearly prevents the Government from cutting deals with any specific sector or religious group," Mr Yeomans said.
    The executive director of the Catholic Education Commission, Brian Croak, acknowledged there was "no doubt" Catholic schools were receiving differential policy treatment. But Education Minister David Kemp "utterly rejects" the suggestion of discrimination in favour of Catholic schools.

11:30am 17/5/99 / The Australian


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