Senator Nick McKim’s extraordinary attack on Catholic education through the press highlights the Greens’ ongoing confusion about their education funding policy, says Catholic Education Executive Director Stephen Elder.
‘While elements of the Greens’ policies on refugees and the environment are laudable, the truth of the matter is that the Greens party’s education platform would inflict serious damage on a quarter of Victorian students who attend a Catholic school,’ said Mr Elder.
‘On the one hand Senator McKim loudly proclaims the Greens’ support for fully funding the Gonski reforms. But conveniently the Senator has neglected to mention that the Greens also wish to strip federal funding from Catholic and other non-government schools on the false premise that this funding “has had an adverse impact on public education.”
‘The Australian Government is the majority funder of Victorian Catholic schools, providing 62 cents of every dollar spent by Victorian Catholic schools,’ he said.
‘The stakes in this federal election for Catholic schools are substantial,’ said Mr Elder.
‘If the Greens’ funding allocation policy was implemented, there is a genuine risk that school fees would rise, forcing some parents to consider whether they could afford to send their child to one of our schools. I fail to see how Senator McKim’s assault on school choice can be considered morally upright.’
The Catholic education is also concerned about the Greens’ intention to remove the ability of religious schools to practice faith-based discretion when making staffing decisions.
‘As a parliamentarian, Senator McKim is allowed to choose staff based on their political beliefs,’ Mr Elder said.
‘Yet in a blatant example of “do as we say, not as we do”, the Greens would deny the right of religious institutions to apply a theological litmus test when hiring.’
Mr Elder also said he had a responsibility to highlight concerns about the Greens education policy.
‘Catholic school parents deserve to know the policies that will impact their ability to exercise educational choice for their children. To ignore the Greens’ policy would constitute a dereliction of duty on my part,’ Mr Elder said.
‘We are fortunate to live in a robust democracy where freedom of political expression means that no one and nothing is beyond criticism. At the end of the day, everyone can freely exercise their democratic rights in the privacy of the election booth.’
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