Australia’s Federal Labor party pledge promises Catholic schools extra funds

Australia’s Federal Labor party has pledged to restore $250m of funding to the country’s Catholic schools.

Bill Shorten, who is the party’s federal parliamentary leader, has promised the Catholic Bishops’ Conference chairman, Bishop Denis Hart, to “arbitrarily” give Catholic schools the $250m in the first two years of government.

Shorten also pledged billions more to come over the next decade.

He made the promise to Hart in the week before a by-election for the Batman seat in the House of representatives.

He reminded Hart of what the party planned to spend on Catholic schools should it win government at the next federal poll.

The measures Shorten outlined are in line with what Labor has promised for nearly a year.

It has been pledging to restore the level of funding schools were originally promised under the Gillard government in 2012.

Labor outlined the difference between what the Turnbull government is giving schools in 2018 and 2019 and its plan.

It says the difference is $1.88 billion for public schools, $250 million for Catholic schools and $53.5 million for the independent sector.

Citing these figures, Mr Shorten wrote: “Catholic schools would be more than $250 million better off in our first two years of government alone.”

Shorten’s promise has been met with opposition by a public school lobby group.

The group says it is “an arbitrary and partisan move”.

The president of the Australian Council of State School Organisations, Phillip Spratt, says Labor has made an “irrational and illogical policy in the scrabble for votes”.

On Monday the education minister, Simon Birmingham, told Sky News “there’s always somebody who can be bought by a few pieces of silver”, suggesting Labor had bought Catholic Education Melbourne’s support.

The Catholic education office in Melbourne is said to have intervened in the Batman by-election.

It has been reported as making 30,000 robocalls in favour of Labor’s Ged Kearney.

On Tuesday the Labor frontbench MP Brendan O’Connor labelled the comments – apparently comparing the sector to Judas – “disgraceful” and called on Birmingham to apologise.


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