Tehan rebuffs Catholic attack on school funding

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan.

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan.

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan has hit back at a National Catholic Education Commission campaign that claims Catholic schools are at risk of losing $4.6 billion in funding.

Mr Tehan said the commission’s claim of a $4.6 billion funding cut to Catholic schools throughout Australia was based on school funding agreements made by the Gillard Labor government in 2012-2013.

He said the money had been promised by the Gillard government without finding any sources for the extra funding.

The Turnbull Coalition government had to deal with the reality of what the government could afford but its new funding model would still give Victorian Catholic schools an extra $1.1 billion over the next 10 years, Mr Tehan said.

The extra funding, while not as large as that promised by the Gillard government, would give many south-west Catholic schools more money next year, he said.

For example, Warrnambool’s Emmanuel College would receive an extra $461,000 next, St Joseph’s Primary an additional $174,000 and St Pius X Primary another $103,000, he said.

Mr Tehan said he had been in discussions with Catholic schools in the Warrnambool area to let them know how much extra funding they would receive under the Coalition’s proposed new school funding model.

“I think there has been a healthy discussion but as with any change, there will be some uncertainty,” he said.

But he said there was no doubt that every Catholic school would benefit from the new funding model.

However the National Catholic Education Commission launched a national campaign against the new funding model, which is due to be voted on in the Senate this week.

The commission has said the new funding model, otherwise known as the Gonksi 2.0 model, would disadvantage Catholic schools. It has urged Catholic school communities throughout Australia to contact their Senator or MP to oppose the change.

Media reports have also said the Coalition is facing a revolt from retiring WA Liberal senator Chris Back over the new funding model.

Senator Back said he feared the change from a system-weighted average funding model to an individual student socio-economic status model would “radically hurt the Catholic sector”.