<%@ Master language="C#" %> WORLD YOUTH DAY SYDNEY 2008: SLUG ON TAXPAYERS




23 JUNE  2008







Tremendous Impost:

The World Youth Day (WYD) Sydney 2008 is turning out to be tremendous impost on taxpayers in both New South Wales and the rest of Australia. Estimates range from a conservative $163.5 million to close to or in excess of $200 million in Australian dollars.

Massive Amount for WYD Sydney 2008 compared to Overseas WYDs.

Taxpayers may be amazed to discover the degree to which Australian and New South Wales citizens are being slugged for religious activities planned for the World Youth Day (WYD)by comparing government contributions in Sydney 2008, Cologne, Germany 2005, and Toronto, Canada in 2002. 

  • WYD Sydney 2008: The conservative taxpayer contribution for Sydney 2008 is $163.5 million, Australian dollars

  • ($108.5 million  for NSW and $55.0 million  Federal)

  • WYD Cologne, Germany 2005: $24.6 m Australian dollars

  • WYD Toronto, Canada, 2002: $17.5 million Australian dollars

In relative terms Australian taxpayers are being slugged 6.6 times more than German taxpayers and 9.3 times more than Canadian taxpayers for World Youth Day religious activities.

Roman Catholic Percentage Share of Population Not the Answer to the Massive Slug

If anyone tries to tell you that the reason for the massive subsidisation of WYD by Australian taxpayers is because Australia has a larger percentage share of population that call themselves Roman Catholics than Canada and Germany, tell them to do their homework.

  • Australia : In 2006 statistics indicated that the Roman Catholics in Australia were 28.2 % of the New South Wales population and 25.8% of the Australian population.

  • Germany: In 2006 statistics indicated that the Roman Catholics in Germany were 31.2% of the population

  • Canada:   In 2001 statistics indicated that the Roman Catholics in Canada were 43.6% of the population.

On the above figures, the Australian Roman Catholic percentage share of the population is considerably less than that in both Germany and Canada. Australian citizens should consequently be asking the following:

How is it possible that, with a considerably lesser percentage share of the total population, are Australian Roman Catholic able to winkle so much more out of the Public Treasuries? ( 6.6 times more than in Germany and 9.3 times more than in Canada)

Greens Attempting to Expose Religious  Attack on Public Treasuries

The Greens in New South Wales, and in particular Lee Rhiannon, are attempting to expose this shameful exercise in church /state entanglement. In doing so, they are assisting the media to follow suit. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald have become interested in the issue. 

In recent days Lee Rhiannon has declared:

'The New South Wales Government had gone overboard in its contribution.'(Sun Herald 22 June 2008.)

In her News Release dated 19 June 2008 she said the following:

The failure to bed down a formal agreement twenty six days out from the event means that the Treasurer, Michael Costa, is effectively creating an open-ended tab for the Catholic Church....

With twenty six days to go until World Youth Day and no formal agreement as to cost, the Catholic Church now has the government over a barrel....

It appears the government will pay anything to avoid a scandal erupting as it did yesterday by stepping in to cover the $150,000 bond to the City of Sydney to secure the use of Hyde Park....

The Treasurer is being financially irresponsible by keeping a World Youth Day slush fund which can be continually dipped into to smooth over dramas with the big winners currently being the Church and the Australian jockey club.

The Treasurer has a tight handle on the purse strings when it comes to public sector wages, but not when it comes to the World Youth Day. The State contribution to the event is currently estimated at $129 million but what the final bill will be is anybody's guess. Last month in Parliament, the government blocked a Green's motion calling for the World Youth Day Co-ordination authority to release documents setting our the real cost of the event to the taxpayers.

Commercial In-Confidence

The argument of 'commercial in confidence' had to raise its head even between a religious body and the government. The details of the agreement between the NSW government and the Catholic church could not be released until both parties were satisfied 'just like any commercial agreement' according to Ms Kristina Keneally, spokesperson for the government's World Youth Day Office.  (Sydney Morning Herald 19 June 2008).

When did the Roman Catholic Church finally 'come out' and admit to being a commercial operation rather than a charity?

How did this Massive Expenditure and Entanglement between the Church and State in Australia Arise?

The most important statements made by Lee Rhiannon are:

'The public deserves an explanation as to why the Iemma government's contribution to World Youth Day is so massively out of whack with the injections made by his equivalents in Canada and Germany' ( Sun Herald 22 June 2008)


'As World Youth Day draws nearer, the public must really be beginning to wonder what is motivating the government's largesse to the Catholic Church' ( News Release, 19 June 2008)

A short but incomplete answer to the above questions is provided by that well placed, well known ABC commentator, ex-priest and devout Roman Catholic, Paul Collins in an address  entitled 'World Youth Day' on the radio program 'Perspective' 26 May 2008. He refers to 

'The unique relationship that Church and State has forged....and a fundamental change does not occur through spectacular events but thorough reflection, careful planning, and willingness to tackle deep seated problems'.

There are other long term answers to the questions asked by Lee Rhiannon concerning the relationship of Church and State in Australia.

Another answer to her question is provided by Brother K. Canavan, Director of Catholic Education, Archdiocese of Sydney.

'There is a realisation that the arrangements in Australia are better than those existing in most, if not all, other countries. In order to maintain widespread community support for non-government school funding the leadership of Catholic education has to manage skilfully the occasional debate in the Press on the funding of non-government schools ' (Catholic Weekly, 9 January, 2000).

State Aid represented the Smashing Open of the Public Treasury for Religious Enterprises

Public funding for World Youth Day for the first time had introduced many citizens to the wholesale raiding of the Public Treasury by religious people , encouraged by their mates, fellow travellers, and the inaction of the gutless.

However, this raiding of the public taxpayer's funds has been going on since the State Aid schemes of the 1960s.  Since the federal financial year 1964/1965  when the first direct federal funding to the States commenced the taxpayer's bill was $2.7 million, or $4.6 per church school pupil. (At this point the precedent was set, and the principle for federal funding of church enterprises established.) In the federal financial year 2007/2008, the power of the church is evident. It is projected that church schools alone will reap in direct grants alone $5.941 billion, or $5,177.2 per church school pupil.

These billions do not take account of the other billions in taxpayer subsidisation of health, welfare, theological and tertiary institutions. Nor do they take into account the ever expanding millions  in hidden taxation expenditures otherwise known as  taxation exemptions. Even if an enterprise is commercial in nature, if it is run by a religious organisation, it can attract a  charitable exemption.

Examples of On-going Entanglement of Church and State in Australia

Since the 1960s DOGS have attempted to inform taxpayers on the countless attacks on the Public Treasury. For example,:

 1.           1981: In a Paper entitled An item for the Agenda of the Australian Education Council 22-23 October 1981, DOGS wrote:

Commonwealth and State money is being employed for all kinds of activities: relocation of Church real estate; building and maintaining of local churches; and extension of church facilities; church political and religious activities; the religious development of adults; and a church holiday camp - to name a few. What else is going on is anybody's guess. It is strictly the private business of the upper echelons of the Church bureaucracies.

2.             1983: In an advertisement entitled State Aid: Billion Dollar Manipulation ( Australian 24 February 1983) the DOGS included  the following information :

  • State Aid money assists non-educational church activities.

  • Since their introduction neither the Federal nor the Victorian Recurrent State Aid legislation has required one cent of the State Aid money to be used on Church school recurrent expenditure. Government funds have in the past and present directly and indirectly assisted church expenditure in the following areas to:

  • build and maintain local churches

  • aid church political activities\relocate Church real estate and pay the parish secretary]

  • assist religious development of adults

  • help train religious brothers

  • build up a church holiday camp

  • keep a Catholic Women's League activity afloat

  • support the chaplaincy of a State Wide Young Christian students Movement.

What else is going on is anybody's guess. It is largely the private business of the upper echelons of the Church bureaucracies.

It is no wonder that religious groups other than the Roman Catholic church are showing greater interest in State Aid. Why should they burden their followers to pay for all their religion - when the government through State Aid will make such a large contribution.

3.            1984: In a further paid Advertisement  entitled Media Peddles ALP Lies in The Age, 28 November 1984, the DOGS included the following information:

Taxpayers Subsidising over 70 Per Cent of Roman Catholic Church Activities in Australia:

Australian taxpayers are being forced to subsidise the new establishment legitimised in 1981 by the High Court judges (with the notable exception of Murphy J.) at a far higher rate than Roman Catholic countries such as Spain, Portugal, or even Italy.

In Australia, when one takes account of money paid out for running expenses for Roman Catholic religious, charitable, hospital and educational activities, the taxpayer's contribution is at least 70 per cent to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Education Bill for the Roman Catholic Church costs the Australian taxpayer a figure approaching One Billion dollars a year in direct grants alone.

The taxpayer covers over 80 per cent for the running expenses for one Roman Catholic parish in Melbourne.

4.              1998 - 2008 : following introduction of the DOGS web page. SInce1998 DOGS have provided countless pages on their web site on the workings of the Church  interest  on the taxpayer's purse. For example, In press Release 163 www.adogs.info/pr163.htm  we revealed the fact that the Liberal Government treated expenditure of public money as a private deal between themselves and the Church hierarchy and its bureaucracy. As recently as Press Release 256 at  www.adogs.info/pr256.htm DOGS revealed the sick joke of accountability for taxpayer's funds really is when it comes to dollars for churches.

Answer to Queries from Lee Rhiannon regarding New South Wales Government's WYD Subsidisation and Practice:

Gutlessness of Politicians/Bureaucrats

If Lee Rhiannon wants to discover the answer to her queries, she should look at the DOGS website, their Advertisements, News Releases, Letters to politicians and the Press.

Part of the answer was set out thirty years ago in an Advertisement entitled State Schools Get the Chop dated 2 December 1977 in The Age. Under the sub-heading, Taxpayers Well and Truly Taken for a Ride, DOGS said:

Because of the fear of the sectarian church lobby politicians have abdicated their responsibility to protect the taxpayers' interest. Without support from politicians, bureaucrats and administrators in the Schools Commission have followed their natural tendency to avoid confrontation with church school interests at all costs. Accountability for public money spent on church schools has been and is merely nominal. There is no real check on how churches spend the money allocated to them. There is no public audit. They employ their own accountants and their financial transactions are not available for public scrutiny. Ministerial responsibility is a sham. Very early in the piece, the major beneficiary of State Aid, the Roman Catholic church woke up to the lamentable weakness of those who were supposed to protect the public interest and recognised the financial benefit of keeping needy schools needy at the same time creating further needy schools. They have tailored their bureaucracy to maximise the benefits of the needs policy.

It should be noted that DOGS have never said that the Roman Catholic Church , the politicians and the bureaucrats are doing anything that is illegal.  The legislation allows this almost complete lack of accountability for public money and the High Court legitimated any level of entanglement between church and state in 1981 when it read the Founding Father's enshrinement of separation of Church and State down and out of our Constitution.

The only judge with the courage to follow the United State precedent and the objectives of the Founding Fathers themselves, was Justice Murphy. His dissent in the DOGS case stands like a beacon for a future awakening of proper and basic democratic procedures in our country.

Gutlessness of the Press

Church schools have been able to get away with what they have done, in large part because of the failure of the Press. For example, in Melbourne, the ABC and the Age and the Australia have opted out of rigorous discussion of the whole State Aid, church/state entanglement issue.

Leading political writers are included in this grievous  abdication of responsibility. See News Release 26 and 27 at www.adogs.info/pr26.htm and www.adogs.info/pr27.htm .

 Pictorial Representation of What is Really Going on:

A picture is worth 1000 words. Have a look at our Cartoons at www.adogs.info/cartoons/cartoon.htm

Why are We Hearing about it in 2008 When it is at Least Fifty Years On?

If the NSW Greens were not active in this matter, taxpayers would still be in the dark. We in Melbourne hear only  about it because of the existence of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun Herald  and Daily Telegraph and  their websites. 

Wrong in Principle: State Funding of The WYD Offends the Principles of Religious Liberty and Church/State Separation

By its very nature religion is a voluntary expression. Taxation is not a voluntary act. Whatever we do or give in religion must not be a matter of law but of conscience. There is no more sacred or basic right than that of contributing only to the religion and its activities to which one wishes to contribute and to the extent that one wishes to contribute to it, if any.

The attempt to compel another to be involved in religion is the germ that develops into spiritual despotism. Taxing a person for religious purposes is the very essence of tyranny.

The payment of money for the support of any endeavour constitutes one's involvement in that endeavour. One of the most important of all acts of worship is that of contributing to whatever religion one approves. The government extraction of compulsory contribution through taxation to be used for religion forces on to pay homage - to participate in a religion to which one may be conscientiously opposed. This is a violation of both freedom of worship and freedom of conscience.

No government has the right to force any person to be involved in religion, not even his own!

As James Madison has said,

"...there is no shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a    most flagrant usurpation."

The uniting of government with religion is hostile to liberty. The separation of religion from government is a necessary pre-condition for religious liberty.

"The province of the civil ruler about religion is to have no province at all."

Religious matters should be separated from the jurisdiction of the State, not because they are beneath the interests of the State, but quite to the contrary. Religion is too important a matter for the individual conscience and is thus beyond the competence of the State. It belongs in the realm of individual choice and action.

WYD Infringes Christian Principles

The Christ who gave the invitation  "Come unto me all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'  at no time called upon the State's powers of compulsion. The combining of religion and the civil power is not and has never been in harmony with basic Christian principles. Civil government depends upon action and force. Christianity depends upon volition, love and acceptance. Civil government represents force; Christianity can accomplish  its ends only if it refrains from the use of force. The use of taxation for the support of religion is compulsory support of religion. It scraps the New Testament principle of voluntary response and support of religion. The separation of religion and the State is a separation of coercion from religion. It therefore is not only a necessary precondition of religious freedom, but may be equated with religious freedom itself.




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Last modified:Wednesday, 25 June 2008