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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 103


Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) (8:29 PM) —I have just a couple of points. There are different funding arrangements for the Catholic school system; that is well understood. There are differences; there is no point in not referring to them. I do not see any harm here. I doubt that the different funding arrangements that were agreed with the Catholic school system are regarded by Catholic schools as singling them out—quite the opposite. This is just an acknowledgement of the fact that a significant proportion of the private school education in Australia is done in Catholic schools. Senator Carr may believe it is the one true faith. He was not with me last night at the 60th anniversary of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who are keen to refer to both Muslim and Christian religions as their `daughter religions'.

We could all have a debate about who is the Johnny-come-lately in religion. My personal view that arguments about dogma do not serve any particular god are well known, so let us not bother having them here. But if you are interested in these matters, Senator, I can highly recommend the book I am reading at the moment: The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation, including the chapter `The West was last: oriental globalisation and the invention of Christendom, 500-1498', which you might be particularly interested in. Nonetheless, the Catholic education system does a tremendous job in Australia and is a very significant part of the private school education system. We do not see any harm in this. If you have an alternative, why do you not put it and we will vote on it?