The O'Farrell government has refused to help the provider of the ethics alternative to scripture in public schools obtain federal tax deductible status. Ethics providers need to attract donations to fund the expansion of classes to meet the soaring demand, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
('No places for children in ethics classes', Sydney Morning Herald 13 Feb, p. 5, http://bit.ly/12cPM2a)
Dr Kaye said: "Every donation of $2 or more to the providers of special religious education in public schools is tax deductible.
"The federal government has refused to extend this attractive carrot to donors to ethics alternative.
"Primary Ethics has been left struggling for the cash it needs to rapidly develop curriculum materials and vet and train new volunteers to meet the rising demand for their classes.
"In order to not anger Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile and offend his crusade against ethics classes, the O'Farrell government is refusing to formally write to the federal Assistant Treasurer requesting Deductible Gift Recipient status to ethics providers.
"While taxpayers subsidise church organisations that teach religion in public schools, ethics classes are left to fend for themselves.
"The Upper House committee that inquired into the ethics classes last year rejected my recommendation that the O'Farrell government lobby for tax deductible status to be extended to the alternative to scripture classes.
"Coalition members of the committee joined with Fred Nile to ensure that the playing field remained deeply biased to scripture classes.
"Premier Barry O'Farrell does not want to offend Fred Nile and risk losing the minority party's votes in the Upper House.
"The behind-closed-doors deal struck between the government and the Christian Democrats was sweetened with the promise to make life hard for ethics classes.
"Parents who want their children to spend the period set aside for scripture doing something useful are being frustrated by the hostility of a state government that is hostage to Fred Nile and his war on ethics classes," Dr Kaye said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455