December 4, 2020

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education gives you strength

ACT election 2020: Labor candidate Brendan Long speaks out on Catholic education funding, school chaplain program | The Canberra Times

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news, act-politics, act election, Brendan Long, ACT labor, euthanasia, education, funding, catholic schools

A Labor candidate has expressed his support for boosting funding for Catholic schools and the school chaplain program, speaking out contrary to the party’s official position for the second time within a week. Murrumbidgee candidate Brendan Long sent an email to the Catholic school principals in his electorate to say he found the funding proposal put forward by director of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Ross Fox compelling. “As a parent with five children who’ve gone through Catholic education, I’m concerned the level of funding for systemic Catholic school in Canberra seems to provide lower per capita investment in ACT government than other jurisdictions around the country,” Dr Long told The Canberra Times. “If I’m elected to the ACT Assembly, I will seek to advocate for the Catholic education funding proposal in the Labor caucus.” Mr Fox called on parties to increase funding to Catholic schools to 25 per cent of the funding provided to public schools, warning that school fees would rise if the funding model wasn’t adopted. Mr Fox said he was not a current member of the Liberal party, although he unsuccessfully ran for the Liberal party in Victoria in the 2007 federal election. The Canberra Liberals have committed to boosting funding by $16.8 million over four years if elected. Education Minister Yvette Berry said ACT Labor’s position on Catholic school funding remained unchanged. “ACT Labor won’t play politics on school funding. We won’t play sectors off against each other. “Under ACT Labor, all schools will receive fair funding in line with the Schooling Resource Standard.” Dr Long also expressed broad support for the federally-funded school chaplain program, which was pulled out of ACT public schools at the end of 2019. “While I recognise that the ACT Labor government does not seek to make use of funding available from the Commonwealth government school chaplain program, I remain committed to the broad goal of the Commonwealth chaplain program,” Dr Long said. Education Minister Yvette Berry requested funding for chaplains to be extended to secular workers and when this was denied she decided to pull the program from government schools. This week Dr Long claimed his party refused to allow him to express his opposition to euthanasia when he returned his responses to smartvote Australia, an online platform which helps match voters with candidates who share their views on certain policy areas. The party since stated candidates were allowed to express individual views on euthanasia and Dr Long’s answer was changed in error. READ MORE: ACT Labor Secretary Melissa James said Dr Long’s dissenting opinions would not change the party’s stance on those education policies. “I think in a broad-based party … there’s always going to be candidates that have slightly different views,” Ms James said. “Dr Long’s views will not make us change or resile from this policy.” Ms James said all candidates were required to sign a pledge when they sought to become candidates which stated they would support the party’s policies and platforms. She said the party was aware that Dr Long had been an applicant on some of these issues as part of his previous employment. Dr Long was a strategic advisor to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and has an unpaid role as senior research fellow at Charles Sturt University’s Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

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