How to Lose the Catholic Vote

nun kidThis week celebrates the 75th anniversary of Sir Robert Menzies Forgotten People’s speech and when Prime Minister Menzies championed school choice and the right Catholic parents, in particular, have to be financially supported.

Not so with Prime Minister Turnbull’s government where its new Gonski 2.0 funding model financially discriminates against Catholic schools, especially those serving disadvantaged communities.  No wonder the National Catholic Education Commission has declared war on the Turnbull government.

Henry Bolte, Victoria’s longest serving and most successful premier, knew instinctively that Liberal governments must stay close to their base and this means not alienating Catholic school parents and their communities.  Turnbull and education minister Simon Birmingham have done the opposite.

After losing 14 seats at last year’s election and hanging on by a majority of 1 you would think the Turnbull government needs all the friends and supporters it can get.  Especially those aspirational voters in marginal seats who choose to enrol their children in Catholic schools.

Forget the political spin coming out of Canberra that Gonski 2.0 is sector blind where all schools are equally treated.

The reality is that the Gonski funding model, based as it is on a small sample of schools and outdated census data, is methodologically flawed and statistically corrupt.  The so-called needs-based model that determines what each school receives is a bureaucratic artifice that bears little relationship to the real needs of schools.

Even worse, under the Gonski funding model wealthy parents enrolling their children in well resourced and privileged government schools, like Sydney’s Fort Street and Melbourne High, do not have to contribute financially to the school’s base level of government funding – described as the Schooling Resource Standard.

The dollar amount of the Schooling Resource Standard received by Catholic school parents, on the other hand, is reduced by what Gonski describes as parents’ “capacity to pay”.

Catholic schools automatically receive less government funding compared to government schools and parents have to make up the difference; regardless of whether they can afford it or not.

And it also should not surprise that the Gonski 2.0 funding model, based as it is on the original 2011 Julia Gillard-inspired Gonski report, discriminates against Catholic schools.  The report is weighted against non-government schools and calculated to make it more difficult for parents to choose such schools for their children.

David Gonski, chosen by Turnbull to chair Gonski 2.0, revealed this bias against non-government schools in a 2011 speech to the Australian Education Union when he argued, “We need to continue to build a strong public school system, and investigate and understand the causes and effects of the enrolment shift from government to non-government”.

Ken Boston, involved in Gonski 2.0 and similar to David Gonski, also believes that any funding model needs to favour government schools as he is concerned that increasing numbers of parents are deserting government schools in favour of Catholic and independent schools.

While the switch from government to non-government schools has slowed recently during the period 1998 to 2008 enrolments in non-government schools grew by 21.9 per cent while enrolments in government schools flat-lined at 1.1 per cent.

Instead of accepting parents’ right to choose Boston condemns parental choice as an example of “neo-Darwin free-market forces” and argues that non-government schools only serve “an exclusive clientele identified by SES, religion, ethnicity or some other dimension”.

Financially penalising Catholic schools, as well as being politically inept, is also inequitable and socially unjust.  One of the most important decisions parents make is where to educate their children and parents have the right to choose a school that best embodies and reflects their values and beliefs.

Unlike government schools that are secular and where Marxist inspired gender and sexuality programs like Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships are compulsory Catholic schools are faith based and have greater freedom when deciding what they teach.

Surveys show that parents value Catholic schools because they are faith based where education involves the whole child, intellectual, moral as well as spiritual, and schools set high expectations and, compared to government schools, have more disciplined classroom environments.

Another reason why Catholic schools must be properly funded is because research shows such schools are very effective in promoting diversity and difference and, as a result, there is less racism and bullying compared to government schools.

Research also proves that Catholic schools have higher completion rates where more students stay on to Year 12 compared to government schools.  Catholic school students also achieve better Year 12 results and have a much higher chance of going to university.

In addition to paying school fees Catholic school parents also pay taxes that support government schools and the existence of Catholic schools, that enrol over 20 per cent of students across Australia, save state and commonwealth governments billions of dollars each and every year.

While some argue that Turnbull has neutralised the Australian Education Union’s and the Australian Labor Party’s ‘I give a Gonski’ campaign by employing David Gonski, who was originally commissioned by the Julia Gillard, the opposite is the case.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of Dumbing Down

23 thoughts on “How to Lose the Catholic Vote

  • en passant says:

    I know you are only joking when you ask whether or not Turnbull or Birmingham have the mental wherewithal to hold two ideas in their heads at once? Reality is whatever thought-bubble they say it is as they (please god, any god) head at breakneck speed to their electoral demise.

    Having achieved their aim of destroying the Liberal Party, all that is left for them to do is retire on a fully-indexed, superbly generous, taxpayer funded pension that would pay for many a school fee.

  • Warty says:

    I’m going to do something I don’t normally do: speak totally off topic, something one of our readers forewarns when he uses the code ‘lacy underpants’.
    It seems the Quadrant has taken a ‘hit’ in its response to Roger Franklins excoriation of the ABC: his vitriolic conclusion was watered down, then made ironically satirical and then the entire article removed from the website, kaput, along with all the supportive readers’ comments.
    It is clear that a small, vulnerable publication reacted with fear. This was supposedly a publication that had for many decades been a foremost defender of free speech, one that was prepared to tackle the difficult issues fearlessly.
    It seems we live in quite a different environment, where the ‘twitterati’ is able to shut down debate through sheer force of numbers. It seems Keith Windshuttle has buckled under significant pressure, including a few voices from the conservative side of politics (Chris Kenny and Paul Murray to mention just two).
    There is no need for me to enter into whether or not Roger really believed someone should go out and bomb the Ultimo premises, because anyone entertaining such a thought needs to get their head read. Clearly Michelle Guthrie is incapable of rational thought because her first response was to get expert advice regarding their security measures. Yes, I mean just that: whether or not to beef up the reasonable measures they already have in place.
    Truth be told her comments on that regard were entirely drama queen stuff, deliberately intended to pile the pressure onto Quadrant. Propaganda if you like. Psycho-warfare if you like, not that there is such a term for a psychotic overreach.
    Guthrie had demanded that Quadrant prominently publish a letter of apology for Roger’s apparent rant; I am at least pleased Windshuttle didn’t follow through with such a lame idea. I mean which of the Quadrant readers would have read it anyway.
    All I can say is that we need to draw support and inspiration from the fact that our magazine has been operative since 1956, when I was still in kindergarten. It’s longevity is not something to sniff at, any more than the fact that I’ve managed to last as long as I have despite fate’s best efforts to get rid of me on more than one occasion. I implore all of my fellows who’ve engaged in such vigorous debate to lend unquestioned support to one of the best publications available in Australia.

    • ian.macdougall says:

      This morning, mere hours after Jones’ guests pocketed their ABC taxi vouchers and repaired to hotel rooms paid for with taxpayer dollars processed through the Sydney Writers Festival, mere children were torn to pieces on the other side of the world.
      Life isn’t fair and death less so. What if that blast had detonated in an Ultimo TV studio? Unlike those young girls in Manchester, their lives snuffed out before they could begin, none of the panel’s likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty.
      Mind you, as Krauss felt his body being penetrated by the Prophet’s shrapnel of nuts, bolts and nails, those goitered eyes might in their last glimmering have caught a glimpse of vindication.
      This morning, mere hours after Jones’ guests pocketed their ABC taxi vouchers and repaired to hotel rooms paid for with taxpayer dollars processed through the Sydney Writers Festival, mere children were torn to pieces on the other side of the world.
      Life isn’t fair and death less so. What if that blast had detonated in an Ultimo TV studio? Unlike those young girls in Manchester, their lives snuffed out before they could begin, none of the panel’s likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty.
      Mind you, as Krauss felt his body being penetrated by the Prophet’s shrapnel of nuts, bolts and nails, those goitered eyes might in their last glimmering have caught a glimpse of vindication.

      This excerpt from Roger Franklin’s piece The Manchester Bomber’s ABC Pals since taken down, can be read as a rather indignant critique of the ABC; as I and I believe the majority of my fellow Australians would read it. Alternatively, it can be read by a certain minority as an invitation to someone so inclined to bomb the bejesus out of the ABC: or out of the head office of Quadrant, given its lack of reverence for the Prophet (pbuh). Or perhaps, out of the Weather Bureau, the Tax Office, a Target store or two (they have a most inviting name), or whatever.
      Grievance seems to be on the increase, and also the violence that goes with it. Assuming this to be an undesirable trend, how best should it be dealt with? I suggest not by recommending more violence, even only in jest.
      Jokes can be misinterpreted.

      • Andrew Griffiths says:

        Essendon Bombers? Time for a name change.

      • Warty says:

        A geriatric, Anglo Saxon white male was found on Platform 2, of Penrith Railway Station, in the early hours of this morning.
        When approached he seem quite confused. One of the Cityrail security staff noticed a number of fine electrical wires protruding from his back pack, and on further investigation it proved to be a shoe box with five Vienna Schnitzels , from which the wires protruded.
        When asked what on earth he was doing standing there at 3 am, with five now putrid sausages in his back pack, he said he had been on his way to bomb the ABC Ultimo offices, but had lost his way.
        The 95 year old man, claimed he was a Quadrant reader and answered to the name of Warty.

      • Jody says:

        My son has just returned from Japan and reports they have no terrorism problems or existential threat in that country. Far from it, he says; they are polite and helpful. What can be the reason for this lack of terror? No muslims in Japan.

  • Keith Kennelly says:


    We all make mistakes. On reflection saying the ABC traitors should be bombed wasn’t right.

    I forgive you. Our enemies live in a world where forgiveness doesn’t exist. The only want retribution.

    The apology was the correct and decent thing to do. It was. Great you did not do anything more.


    I was wrong to tell Roger to tell them to ‘go to hell.’

    Now let’s get on with demanding the bias in the abc be addressed and extinguished through unfunding or the appointment if a board that will enforce its charter.

    That’s the high moral ground and it makes Guthrie look increasingly, stupid and ineffective, not to mention
    the h word.

    The longer she ignores the bias the more deliberately in breech of the charter she becomes.

    If she has any decency she’d resign.

  • Warty says:

    Now that I’ve got the ABC faux outrage bit off my chest, let me apologise to Kevin Donnelly for not addressing his column directly. Had I been the columnist, I might have been just a tad miffed that one of the two readers (at that stage) had taken it upon himself to rabbit on about something entirely different.
    Having said that, I couldn’t help think that Birmingham, under Turnbull’s leadership, has been well and truly following in Bill Shorten’s footsteps. In fact most commentators suggest Shorten has consistently been winning the media campaign since well before the July elections last year.
    Shorten has been pushing his little meme of ‘fairness’ for some time now, and Turnbull, instead of tackling the liar head on, instead decides to take some of the wind from the opposition leader’s sails. So he attacks the banks, imposing a special tax I simply don’t have the financial brain to explain; and adopts a Gillard policy, the once successfully ridiculed Gonski,1.0 that Labor was never able to fund in the first place.
    Now, one can’t argue with Kevin Donnelly’s proposition that the Liberals are shooting themselves in their collective foot in attacking the Catholic Schools. One can’t argue with the point that were the Catholic Schools to throw up their arms in defeat and dump all their students on the government schools, the public education system would collapse. But what he hasn’t argued is whether the NSW curriculum is worth a single pellet more than a bag full of kitty litter, because it clearly isn’t, and the Coalition are blindly supporting an education system that is funding the next generation of Green voters, perhaps the next two, three or four generations with a curriculum that focuses on all the Aboriginal, climate change and gender fluidity issues that would make a Gramski (of long march infamy) fox trot in his grave.
    Who cares which school gets more than another, when the entire education system needs radical reform. There was a time when the Catholic system was truly independent, but now the Marxists are in control, those days are well nigh forgotten.

    • padraic says:

      You are absolutely right Warty about Catholic Schools these days. My old school is a picture of a politically correct re-education camp – saving the planet, be nice to well funded fake refugees, self-loathing exercises – all the stuff the ABC knows and loves. I am eternally grateful to the Brothers who taught us self-discipline, sporting skills, Latin, Chemistry, English Literature both old and recent, Christian texts, Physics, Maths etc and also taught us how to think, not what to think. Politics was never discussed. That was our own and our parents’ business. We were exposed to a “Classical Education” and saw how we fitted in to and appreciate the pageant of Western Civilization (in all its good and bad aspects). One would expect today that the sick social policies of the Greens and Labor – antagonistic to the traditional Christian values of the ordinary citizen – to cause the average Catholic to support a more traditional political agenda. Many have “lapsed” due to these sick policies and the Church’s former behaviour vis-à-vis paedophiles or because some have gown old and become more rational, but the majority still have a passionate loyalty to the way they were politically and refuse to see what is in front of them has changed.

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

    Regarding the article, since my children have grown up many years ago and I don’t have any grandchildren living in Australia, I don’t give much of a Gonsky about school funding as such, but keenly share Warty’s sentiments regarding the curriculum and the bringing up of future greeny generations. As to the Liberal Party, I have long given up on it altogether. While I could never vote Labour, nor could I vote Liberal in the foreseeable future, if ever.

    To comment on on Roger’s “ misstep”, what a furious false storm in a teacup. What he wrote was not in the best of taste, but anyone interpreting it as incitement to violence is a certified nutter of the highest order. Has anyone ever demanded an apology from a Muslim publication, a Muslim preacher or the wielder of a sign saying “behead those who insult the Prophet”? To do so would be “islamophobic” and bigoted which would never do.

    • Doc S says:

      I read the ‘debate’ (if you can call it that) over Roger’s article after first seeing Chris Kenny rip into it live on air on Sky (where he first grasped the wrong end of the stick re the savage satirical bombing analogy). I commented on Roger’s article to that affect and added my voice of support. I noted that as savage as Roger’s satire was, I did not read any call to bomb the ABC, as did most of the others commenting who added their support for Roger.

      I then saw Greg Sheridan give his two-bob’s worth, echoing Kenny’s line and the word ‘despicable’ – for the same damn reason. I read the article again just to see if my first impression was mistaken. Nope. It wasn’t – no exhortation to bomb the ABC, just some pretty savage satire, actually toned down a bit by that stage.

      To my alarm I saw Paul Murray and Miranda Devine do exactly the same thing as Kenny and Sheridan. I think Murray may have admitted he didn’t read the entire thing but nonetheless still called it ‘despicable’. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to hear that from Murray, usually so sane but not averse to some pretty colourful language himself when occasion demands. To my knowledge just one got it about right – Andrew Bolt – who on his Herald blog made the exact and rather obvious point that ‘no sane person’ could possibly interpret what Roger had written as a threat to blow up the ABC. How could so many conservative and normally very sane journalists (OK Greg Sheridan maybe not so much…) grasp the wrong end of the stick? My only conclusion is that the howls of unrighteous indignation from the ABC and the serried ranks of the Leftist media were so loud and the atmosphere so charged with the stench of bovine excreta that even some of the (usually) sanest minds were temporarily lost.

      The hypocrisy of the ABC and the Leftie media and its many organs you expect, but not those whose usual criticism of Islamic extremism and of those who regularly and nauseously apologise for it (with every new eruption of religiously-inspired murderous carnage) is one that has taken me by surprise. And in which I feel a profound disappointment.

      • Guido Negraszus says:

        I completely agree with you. Miranda Devine and Chris Kenny (while I like them overall) are on the weaker end of conservatives and so is Paul Murray. Come voting day they happily sell their soul. A true conservative could never have voted for the Turnbull government UNLESS you are lucky and have a conservative representative in your electorate. Remember the delcon debate last year? Kenny and Devine were fighting the idea like hell. As for the spineless editor in chief of the Quadrant: I regret that I renewed my subscription this month and won’t renew next year.

        • Warty says:

          Whilst I fully agree with your sentiments, Guido, may I suggest you don’t go through with your non renewal next year. The fact that litigation had been threatened may have had something to do with Windshuttles craven capitulation. I though I feel there has been a serious retreat in regard to the important issue of free speech, it is driven largely by fear. If you watched Nick Cater’s ‘performance’ on The Drum, and believe me his capitulation was far more nauseating, one begins to get a fetch of why the Quadrant board reacted in the way they did. I’m afraid I would have totally lost it in the face of the sustained ABC feminazi attack on Cater and Quadrant, which is why anyone who knows me would never put me in any sort of mediating role, but I could see Cater’s genuine fear, and I have to forgive that.
          My second point is the whole history of Quadrant, with its wealth of contributors, over many many years. I’ve had been reading the hard copy version since 1990, being one of the few teachers who’d take the various editions from the school library. That particular esteemed GPS institution has become sufficiently left wing it probably no longer stocks Quadrant, but a Keith Windshuttle and a Nick Cater ought not to be allowed to sully the name of a publication and its fine contributors over one appalling reaction. There are few such publications anywhere in Australia, and I include the Spectator in my comparisons.
          I’d also like to extend my plea to ‘Helen’ who said she too would cancel her subscription, in her response to an article in the Catallaxy Files.

  • ron.house says:

    I deny the basic premise that funding should be needs-based. Funding should be equal. Capacity to pay should have already been decided and funded by progressive taxation, which determines that the wealthy pay proportionately more than the poor. Then, if the wealthy want their school to have extra resources, they can pay higher fees on top of the same funding per student from the government.

  • Trog says:

    Great article. I loved reading it and also the comments. In case readers aren’t aware it was the Great Andrew Bolt himself who passed the most egregious comment about the hyperbole in the offending article. Paraphrasing from his hour show with Steve Price;

    “What did Michelle Guthrie really think? That Quadrant readers were going to attack the ABC office with their Zimmer frames!”

    Seriously, disparagingly agist of course but like the offending article, pretty well a direct bullseye my guess.

    More of this kind of aggressive, sufficiently in your face plainspeak, will be so very badly needed when the smugly venal and mercenary, indigenous rights campaigners smother us with mountains of falsehoods in seeking treaties and compensation for our truly awful, “Sorry” history.

    Lies have already achieved universal truth status by emanating from the mouths of our leaders past and present, then fixatively filtering down to the lessons our kindergarteners receive from “educators” bent on entrenching deceit and division.

    I’m not Catholic but my kids very gratefully received a wonderful education from many wonderful teachers at Catholic schools, alongside many indigenous kids I might add, and I have sympathy for those that must endure the public system against their own preference. I must very sadly agree that the curriculum is now the merest shadow of world’s best practice and a reckoning must be looming. Our future smarts, competitiveness and living standards are surely under serious threat.

    Finally Mr Warty sir, it’s lovely to see your continued affection for the colon and semi colon. They still frighten me and my guess many school teachers today would be blindly unaware.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    I’m with you Ron.house.

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    Turnbull is banking on the virtue of Catholic forgiveness … because they have nowhere to go … except to Bernardi. Feels like collateral damage from another lefty thrust. Somehow getting into bed with Gonski feels like getting into bed with Guillard. … a truly horrific thought.

    Re Roger Franklin’s excellent satire. I view it in the same lens as Jonathan Swift’s famous essay – ‘A Modest Proposal’ in which he suggested that the English should ‘eat Irish babies’. Swift’s essay shamed the English into a realisation that their greed had indeed instituted a famine in Ireland for which they would likely be never forgiven. Literature , hyperbole, and satire can be a powerful weapon … and, from the point of view of Oz literature – I congratulate Roger Franklin on bringing his unusual barnstorming over-freighted sentences to such a worthy and useful point of arrival. At last the ABC is displaying some sort of vulnerability. Finally we have seen them reduced to demanding an apology. The reality of the metaphor has hit home. He has hoisted the ABC on their own petard. This is what good satire can achieve. Bill Leake is raising his glass to you, Franklin, from the corner bar in Heaven.

    • irisr says:

      I dip me lid to you, Sir Patrick, for expressing exactly my own thoughts.
      Roger Franklin is to be congratulated for his brilliant Swiftian satire, which I would like to see restored to these glorious pages. I hold no beef against Mr Windshuttle spiking the story, regrettable as it is. We cannot fight the billion dollar might of the ABC if they did send their “expensive criminal QC” to bat against a small, non-government funded, mag.

      I apologise to Mr Donnely, too, for highjacking his magnificent expose of the outrageous Turnbull decision to defund private education. One just cannot add much to his lucid analysis, other than say: it is what it is, we will fight for a better Government next time. Viva Cory Bernardi!

  • MikeAlder says:

    I can’t argue with any of Kevin’s article or the comments.

    I subscribed to QOL yesterday as support for Roger Franklin. His article was lively and had punch, I hope to get many more of them in future. The belief that only decorous and respectful opinions of the ABC should be published is as ludicrous as the charge that he was inciting a bombing of the ultimo headquarters.

  • Elle says:

    Thank you for this post, Sinc.

    Leftists get away with spewing forth so much hatred. But when it’s turned on them, in what was a piece highlighting their hypocrisy, they run crying. They are a bunch of apologists for Islam and a huge part of the cause of why we are in the mess we are in.

    Instead of focusing on what happened in Manchester they went after a journalist on the right side of politics. And wasn’t it a great distraction for the Managing Director of the ABC, Michelle Guthrie, who was in the spot light for something, which I won’t go into, but it certainly took the focus off her.

  • John Cook says:

    The trouble is, if you fund one set of religious schools, it’s very hard to deny funding to another set, unless you can prove financial finagling.

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