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Catholic Bishops Come To My Rescue

20 March 2011

Thank you so much to the ten NSW Catholic Bishops who have helped me come to a voting decision for next week’s State election.

They’ve issued a very helpful 2 page booklet called The Green Agenda stating that the party’s human rights and social policy areas are in direct conflict ”with the beliefs and values of virtually all religious people, and the beliefs of many other people as well”.

”Greens who are elected will bring a whole set of policies. You cannot pick and choose. They are not only concerned for the environment,” it reads. 

And it outlines six areas of grave concern: The Green’s treatment of personal drug use as a health and social issue/their commitment to remove religious exemptions from the Anti Discrimination Act/their call for the legalisation of marriage between same sex couples/their desire to transfer $780 million a year of state and federal funding of non-Government schools to public education. The other two areas are concerned with the rather confusing way that abortion is dealt with, legally, in all States, and the same problem that arose with euthanasia laws introduced by the Territories, which were overturned by the then Howard (Liberal) Government.

Most of this sounds pretty good to me and I thank the Catholic Bishops for bringing it to my attention. The Bishops don’t mention the Green’s views on the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees but I can go with them on that one too. Neither of the other parties appears willing to put social issues on the agenda and behaves as though the only role of Government is to balance the books.  I don’t know why they don’t just appoint a panel of accountants and economists and let them get on with it.

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4 comments

  1. As a leftie Catholic this makes me a bit sad.

    Although as someone who benefited from a Catholic primary education I’m inclined to think that removing funding for those schools would be counter-productive.


  2. I agree with your position on this, Sally. I’m appalled that so many state schools are under-resourced while wealthy private schools are still receiving government funding. I think Linda has a point though – I have a relative who works in the Catholic parochial school system (as opposed to the GPS Catholic schools) and they seem to provide care that the state schools are unable to do – part of it stems from the ethos of the Catholic school system, and probably their ability to require certain qualities from their staff because of their exemption from the anti-discrimination act (and I don’t mean being a member of the Catholic faith).

    I think there should be agreed minimum through to optimal standards for education of all children in a stepped system, encompassing the learning environment as well as educational outcomes – for example, access to a healthy breakfast; adequate books etc; adequate classrooms, resources and equipment; buildings with climate control and adequate space; adequate play areas and sporting equipment; sufficient special resources and adequately trained teaching and support staff for all children including those with special needs – physical, intellectual, behavioural and emotional; and optimal class sizes for all children. These standards would be spelt out in detail (“adequate” would be defined qualitatively and quantitatively) ) by consultation with teachers and principals, educational experts, and unions. While ever a school doesn’t meet those standards; it should have priority funding and when the budget runs out, those further up the chain have to make do with their existing resources until the next funding round. I would provide the salaries for private schools but only in the same ratio as in the state system until all schools have the same staffing ratios . Where a private school might have 40 teachers for 720 children and 10 part-time/fulltime specialist teachers such as music, drama etc , that school would only receive the same salary funding as a state school with 24 teachers for the same number of children.

    I’m aware that as I’ve outlined it here, it seems a simplistic dream, but with the will and determination of a government concerned with educational equity, I’m sure it would work – that’s if the government could withstand the pressure from those who benefit from the present system …..

    I believe that education should be secular – (no scripture in schools – that’s a hangover from the past when churches were the centre of community life; comparative religion as an academic subject, taught impartially by trained teachers, I have no problem with) – religious education belongs in the home and community if that is what parents desire. But I think it’s a pipe dream that all education will ever be secular. By focussing on standards, it would avoid a relapse to the days when children at the smaller, poorer, non-secular schools suffered educationally because of their parents’ beliefs.

    The issue of fundamentalist teachings in non-secular schools – of WHATEVER religious persuasion – is not so simple. I’m still thinking that one through!


  3. Thanks Catholic bishops for bringing these dire circumstances to our attention. I mean, what an awful place Australia would be if people could marry whomever they wanted, could have legal rights to claim if they’ve been discriminated against for their religious (or in this case probably non-religious) views, and public schools received more funding from the government than private schools? Shock horror!
    I guess you can tell how I’ll be voting too…


  4. Well, nobody will be surprised to know that I’ll be voting Green and preferencing Labor. Not because I am a fan of the party, just because the candidate in my area is from the left, and seems like a pretty decent guy.

    As for Greens policies, the NSW Greens don’t have a refugee policy (as it is a federal issue), but here is a link to the multiculturalism policy. http://nsw.greens.org.au/policies/Multiculturalism

    You can also find other policies there too.

    Co-incidentally, I had to do a mini assignment this week about the four pillars of green politics, which are, Ecological Wisdom – living harmoniously with nature, Social Justice, Grassroots Democracy, and Peace and Non-Violence.

    Values that I think most of us can get behind 🙂

    As for schools, I don’t think anyone is saying that Catholic Education shouldn’t be funded – AFAIK, the Greens policy is that school funding should be directly proportional to enrollments. Private schools shouldn’t be getting MORE public funding than PUBLIC schools.



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