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Catholic claims on western suburb schools are nonsense



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M I N I S T E R F O R

E m pl o y m e n t E d u c a t io n & T r a in in g T H E H O N . J O H N D A W K I N S M . P .

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CATHOLIC CLAIMS ON WESTERN SUBURBS SCHOOLS ARE NONSENSE

John Dawkins, the Federal Minister for Employment, Education and Training, has tagged as "nonsense" claims by the Parramatta Catholic Education Office that the Federal Government is spending less than families on Catholic school building projects in the Parramatta Diocese and that families have been left debt-burden because of this.

There are three financial contributors to Catholic schools in the Parramatta Diocese: the Federal Government, the State Government and Catholic parents.

The Federal Government is making a most significant contribution. The level of Commonwealth grants has increased in real terms in every year since 1985.

"It is astoundingly inaccurate for the Parramatta CEO to claim that the Federal Government has squibbed on funding and then left families to pick up bills of $24.9 million for building works on top of school fees.

"In fact, this claim is blatantly untrue.

"The CEO's claim that Catholic families and school communities have been left to pay most of the bill for capital works bills seems rather odd considering that between 1984 and 1991 the Federal Government has contributed about $15.2 million to the Parramatta Diocese's building projects worth almost $19 million.

Actual school contributions for these school building works over this time has been $3.6 million.

Mr Dawkins said he had been informed of the CEO's comments by the Member for Parramatta, Paul Elliot.

"I must say I was amazed at the claims made by the CEO," said Mr Dawkins.

In a recent media release, the CEO claimed that 23 schools in the Western Suburbs had built schools without Federal help.

"This is wrong - and very wrong," said Mr Dawkins. ---------

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The Minister said that of the schools listed by the CEO, eight received or will receive Federal Government capital grants of $15.3 million - a bit more than the fat zero claimed in the media release.

Of the same 23 schools, 11 have never even applied for a capital grant from the Federal Government.

Further, the media release claims that two schools - John Paul II Senior School and McCarthy Catholic Senior High School - have been unable to build facilities because of a lack of Federal funds.

In fact, McCarthy has received $3.8 million for school building projects over the period 1985-1990.

"I am disappointed that the CEO has failed to even acknowledge what the Federal Government is doing to fund Catholic schools", said Mr Dawkins.

In NSW alone from 1987 to 1991, the Federal Government will have spent $79.3 million on building facilities in Catholic schools and about $1.1 billion in the NSW Catholic school system for running costs and building grants.

In addition, over the period 1987-90 the Commonwealth has allocated $22.5 million to assist the Catholic system to provide services for ESL students.

The Catholic system also receives funding from the Disadvantaged Schools Program and the Country Areas Program. ..

Mr Dawkins said that since the Parramatta Diocese Catholic school system was established in 1987, it has received more than $211 million in Federal Government grants and assistance.

And this year alone, Parramatta Diocese will receive $4.3 million in capital grants for building projects.

"I am always happy to receive legitimate and well supported representations about funding for schools," said Mr Dawkins.

"But curious media statements such as the one released by the Parramatta CEO unnecessarily worry parents and do not reflect all that well on those who issue such statements."

August 15,1991

Enquiries: Louise Murray Mr Dawkins' office 06 277 7460

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