Over the last few weeks in Australia, we’ve been watching with growing horror the evidence presented to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, as a stream of people attempt to justify the blind eye they turned to obvious abuse of children, or worse still how they actively covered up crimes committed by members of their staff. For a couple of weeks, we had the Salvation Army trying to excuse the behaviour of some of their Officers and their total lack of action over the known activities of some of these people.
And then we got the Catholic Church, including getting Cardinal Pell into the box. He’s leaving Australia shortly to take a post in Rome, overseeing the Church’s vast wealth. And it would appear from the evidence we heard this week that he has a fair bit of experience in that field.
The Sydney Archdiocese alone (ie NOT the whole of Australia) has assets of $1.2 BILLION, of which about $300 MILLION is in cash. Obviously this raises questions about why they spent about $1 million fighting a legal case against an abuse victim rather than pay him $100,000. But it also raises questions to me about why we, the Australian taxpayer, are funding ANY of their activities. Why can’t the Catholic Church pay for its own schools for instance?
I’ve been told a few times that all Australians pay into the system and therefore if they choose to have their children educated at a private or religious school, it’s only fair that some of the money they have contributed be given to those schools. I pay local rates and part of those go to the funding of a free (and very good) library service. If I choose to not use that service but buy all my books from booksellers, should I expect that the Government provide funding to Dymocks or Amazon? If I want to drive my car rather than catch the train, should I be receiving a subsidy to run my car as I’m not availing myself of the public transport system?
And don’t tell me that if everyone left the private education sector and went into the public one, it would collapse under the strain. It would have a lot more money than it has now, for a start. And if that’s the argument, we could also argue that private car use should be Government-subsidised so that the entire population doesn’t elect to use the public system.
Utter nonsense, all of it. And incredibly expensive nonsense at that.