AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS - D.O.G.S.

PRESS RELEASE 26#.

Statistics Home The Latest News Contents The High Court Case Feedback


OPEN LETTER TO PRESS AND POLITICIANS ON LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY FOR STATE AID TO CHURCH SCHOOL
 

OPEN LETTER TO PRESS AND POLITICIANS:

PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY IN RELATION TO

STATE AID TO CHURCH SCHOOLS:
29.11.2000

STATES GRANTS (PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ASSISTANCE) BILL 2000

 

INTRODUCTORY COMMENT:

 

This is the first of a number of submissions in relation to this Bill and the State Aid to Church Schools that it involves. We have not bothered to circulate information to federal politicians and the Press since the 1980s.

Instead we have put our information over the community radio network and the Internet. We note that our message, which has not changed since our inception in the 1960s, is now falling on fertile ground. This is not surprising. Our predictions have come true.

We are consequently involving ourselves once again in the political and media process. We note that many in both the daily and specialist Press can see that the public system and our democratic society, not to mention the future of our children – are in grave jeopardy from aid to church schools. Church schools always were and always will be a cancer in the body politic.

Just look at the effect the religious pressure groups have had on the political process and media since the 1960s!

DEMAND FOR PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY

Introduction:

Since the Conservative coalition returned to power in 1998 there has been a dramatic decline in public financial accountability of Federal State Aid expenditure. This should be noted at a time when it has taken 30 years for direct federal state aid to get to $1.86 billion and in the next eight years under the Conservative Government another $1.97 billion will be added to the federal State Aid bill. Please not that this figure does not take account of the hidden iceberg of indirect subsidies and taxation exemptions for church schools.

This increase in funding is in inverse proportion to accountability for this massive funding. Since the inception of per capita federal State Aid in 1970, until the publication of the Minister’s Report of 1998, the Ministerial Report commonly known as the green book contained information regarding the funding of each individual private/church school.

In 1998 there was a dramatic change in the information published and provided to the public. The Green Book in 1997 contained 92 pages whereas that produced in 1998 contained only 26 pages. In addition, in the 1997 Report there were 62 pages of information about money going to individual schools in the states and territories. This has been reduced to 8 pages in the 1998 report. This reduction is a gross abdication and abnegation of parliamentary responsibility and accountability.

This is a disgraceful cover up of what is actually going on. For instance, the information on the funding of New South Wales private schools was reduced from 20 pages to 1 page. For Victoria, it was reduced from 16 pages to 1 page. To reduce in the green book 62 pages to 8 pages is not taking seriously the accountability requirements.

Has this been done to conceal what is actually happening?

In the 1970s and the 1980s DOGS used this information to show that

  • the largest Church school system was using the funds to build up a bureaucracy;

          the Needs policy was a sham;

  • schools in wealthy areas were getting more than those in the poorer areas;

          individual prestigious Roman Catholic schools received more than so called             poor parish schools;

  • the "needy" inner suburban "poor" parish schools - the Trojan Horse of State Aid - were used to prop up uneconomic city and country schools and duplicate "needy’ schools in developing suburbs and expanding central church school administrations.

  • the expansion of private church secondary schools in Victoria during the period 1970 to 1985 was assisted by the transfer of federal recurrent funds earned by pupils attending primary schools and a few other schools attended by both primary and secondary pupils across to schools containing only secondary schools.

  • a study of the 1983 figures provided in the green book for Victorian Roman Catholic schools indicated that secondary pupils in secondary schools were subsidized by other pupils to the following extent : in the Melbourne archdiocese $41 per pupil; in Ballarat diocese $17.4 per pupil; in the Sale diocese $108.7; in the Sandhurst diocese $21.8; in all Roman Catholic dioceses of Victoria $40.00

 

CITIZENS DEMAND

 

We demand that

  • the Press and Politicians force the Executive to provide a 1997 type Report for 1998.

  • Section 116 in the Bill be changed to conform with Section 7 of the States Grants Independent Schools Act, 1969.

The present Section 116 allows the Minister complete discretion in detailed information provided. Parliament should not allow the Executive to treat either themselves or the public with such complete contempt. Perhaps politicians should be treated with contempt, but we, as members of the public object strongly to this outrage. After all, these billions of dollars are OUR TAXES!

Section 116 (2) States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Bill 2000 reads:

"As soon as practicable after 30 June next following year, the Minister must cause a report dealing with the following to be laid before each House of the parliament:

financial assistance ( if any) granted in the year under this Act for recurrent expenditure;

the application of the financial assistance granted in the year under this Act

         (including financial assistance by way of capital grants).

This Section which only requires minimal information is in stark contrast to the provision in the first federal per capita State Aid Act: States Grants (Independent Schools) Act (No. 89) 1969, Section 7

"As soon as practicable after the end of each year, the Minister shall cause a statement to be laid before each House of the parliament setting out –

the names of the schools in each State in respect of which payments to the State have been made under this Act in respect of that year and, in respect of each school, the amount paid by reference to pupils receiving primary education and the amount paid by reference to pupils receiving secondary education; and

the totals of the amounts paid to each State under this Act in respect of that year by reference to pupils receiving primary education and by reference to pupils receiving secondary education, respectively. "

FEDERAL STATE AID MONEY DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SPENT ON EDUCATION:

Federal recurrent State Aid money can be used to pay for the building of churches, payment of priests, real estate investments and Church political activities. This has been the case for many years.

All that is required in the present Act, according to Section 22 (1) is

"(1) A section 18 agreement must require the relevant authority:

to give the Secretary of the Department a certificate by a qualified accountant stating whether an amount equal to the sum of the amounts mentioned in subsection 21(1) has been spent ( or committed to be spent) for the program year for the purposes mentioned in that subsection;"

Thus, federal per capita state aid (our taxes at work) could be used to directly pay for the building of a cathedral, or the purpose of shares, or real estate investment, or subsidization of the Democratic Labour Party…. Etc. etc.

TAXPAYERS MUST NOT BE TAKEN FOR A RIDE

It is imperative in the area of aid to private schools that there must be strict accountability laid down by Parliament. One of the inherent problems created by Church schools is that it creates States within States and dual loyalties of citizens. Taxpayers cannot be sure to whom the bureaucrats owe their first loyalty. This problem is further magnified by the fear created in the politicians by the Church School lobby.

In a DOGS Advertisement in The Age December 2 1977, we clearly stated this problem. Because of the fear of the sectarian Church lobby politicians have abdicated their responsibility to protect the interest of the taxpayers.

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.

Witness the present groveling of both the conservative and labour party politicians as they sell out the public school system, taxpayers, and their own raison d’Ítre. But then, once State Aid was given to Church Schools, this was all inevitable. DOGS predicted it, and here it is upon us.

IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS ON THIS SCORE WE SUGGEST YOU READ SOME OF THE ADVERTISEMENTS WHICH DOGS INSERTED IN VARIOUS PAPERS REGARDING AID TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND ITS CANCEROUS EFFECT ON OUR DEMOCRATIC CIVIL SOCIETY. PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR MEMBERS GAVE SACRIFICALLY FOR PAYMENT FOR THESE ADVERTISEMENTS BECAUSE THE PRESS WOULD NOT PRINT THE MATERIAL IN THE FIRST PLACE:

The Age, November 27, 1972

The Age, July 12, 1973

The Age, June 23, 1977

The Age, December 2, 1977

The Age, February 24, 1983

The Age, May 3, 1984

The Age, November 28, 1984

The Age, May 1, 1985

The Age, 30 August, 1988

The Age, March 2, 1998

Canberra Times, November 4, 1983

Canberra Times, April 6, 1984

The Australian, July 19, 1985

IS THERE ANY PERSON IN PARLIAMENT OR THE PRESS WHO HAS THE INTESTINAL FORTITUDE TO TACKLE THIS BASIC ISSUE IN OUR DEMOCRACY OR IS IT GOING TO BE ANOTHER LESSON IN THE SLIPPERY SLIDE DOWN THE PATH OF ENTANGLEMENT OF CHURCH AND STATE?

THE INVOLVEMENT OF CHURCH WITH STATE IS NEITHER GOOD FOR RELIGION NOR GOVERNMENT.

DOGS AWAIT YOUR RESPONSE – OR NON-RESPONSE WITH INTEREST.

"
...Contact Us:

If you have a message for supporters of public education:

Please Contact:
Ray Nilsen on
(03) 9326 9277 or Fax: (03) 9326 9180
Postal address:
P.O. BOX 4869
Melbourne Victoria Australia 3001
E-mail: adogs@adogs.info
Or complete our feedback form.
Last modified:Monday, 25 April 2005