Private schools warned

THOUSANDS of Tweed parents have been warned the region’s independent and Catholic schools could be “forced to close their doors” under Greens Party policies.

Sitting Nationals MP Geoff Provest yesterday took the gloves off in the campaign for the seat of Tweed to warn parents of children attending Catholic primary and high schools or independent schools like Lindisfarne of the consequences if the Greens win enough influence to push their policies.

He also warned the Greens policy to slash road funding would “mean more highway fatalities”.

Mr Provest referred to a warning by NSW Catholic bishops and Archbishop Cardinal Pell that an analysis of the Greens’ school policy found Catholic schools fees would rise by up to $1550 per year if it were to be implemented.

But Greens candidate for Tweed Andrea Vickers yesterday said Mr Provest’s attempt to create fear and doubt over Greens policy used inaccurate and misleading statements.

“No Tweed school, or indeed any school, would be forced to close under Greens education policy,” she said.

“Greens transport policy aims to make roads safer, reduce construction costs, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

“The Greens would not strip support from Catholic and independent schools, but would return their funding to 2003 levels with adjustments for inflation.

“That funding would go to disadvantaged public schools whose students come from families that can’t afford a private education.”

Ms Vickers said making roads “heavy-freight friendly” accounted for the vast majority of road building costs.

The bishops’ warning said: “The NSW Greens want to reduce state grants to most non-government schools ... to the same total level they were at in 2003 from both state and commonwealth grants combined, with an allowance for inflation.

“That means that NSW Catholic system schools alone would immediately lose more than $318 million a year.

“To cover this loss in funding and maintain current standards, fees in Catholic systemic primary and secondary schools would have to rise substantially, possibly by as much as $1550 a year.”

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