CATHOLIC PRAISE OF LABOR
THE head of Catholic Education in Victoria has dramatically intervened in the Batman by-election, attacking the Turnbull Government in a letter to the parents of every child at Catholic schools in the seat.
In a move set to send a chill down the spine of Coalition MPs, Catholic Education executive director Stephen Elder has written to Catholic school parents in Batman endorsing Labor’s promise to restore funding it says has been cut by the Turnbull Government.
While the Liberal Party is not running a candidate in the Batman by-election — a Greens-Labor fight — the letter shows Catholic angst at the Turnbull Government’s changes to education funding will be a big factor at the next federal election.
This month, Bill Shorten wrote to Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart, promising to restore $250 million in Catholic school funding, and billions more over the next decade.
The Opposition Leader said Labor stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the Catholic Church on schools funding.
Mr Elder’s letter to parents quotes Mr Shorten’s statement that “the ALP strongly believes that low-fee Catholic schools make a valuable contribution to schooling in Australia” and says of the parties running on Saturday “only the ALP education policy” supports the system’s objectives.
According to the 2016 census, one in four children in Batman attends one of 15 Catholic schools in the seat. Mr Elder told the Herald
Sun Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham “are giving them a belting”. “That’s why we’ve asked Batman candidates if they will be champions for Catholic education and stand up for these school communities — and passed on the results to parents,” he said.