In a surprise announcement this morning, the Albanese government has terminated all tax cuts for religious institutions and permanently rescinded all religious public funding in Australia. This budgetary move is estimated to free approximately $30 billion in the budget.
This is being funnelled into Austudy, Abstudy and Job Seeker to bring those payments up to the poverty line. Additional to reversing the Liberal Party’s $500,000 diversion of public funds to religious schools, the Labour party is adding an additional half a billion for public education, specifically teachers. The remaining budget is also being used for additional nurses, elderly care and NDIS as well as building 100,000 public housing apartments by the end of 2024.
Later this week, the Minister for Social Services is outlining a new program to ensure children are no longer subject to abuse. A key focus are the indoctrination procedures at religious organisations. The Minister will oversee a watchdog committee being set up to investigate levels of trauma and abuse based on decades of studies revealing the effects of threatening children. Abuse includes silencing, bullying, threatening, coercing, marginalising, humiliation, and sexual and physical assault. This program falls within the government’s ‘Zero Abuse’ program announced yesterday in Canberra.
At time of print, no religious organisation has responded to requests for comment although religious groups are expected to face ongoing demands for transparency and non-religious justification for their presence in politics and society. An interpretation of France’s move to ban head scarves, the Albanese government has determined that secular activities will no longer support religions and that participating in religions constitutes a ‘private matter, not a public investment’. Human rights activists, lobbyists, equality group leaders and religious trauma psychologists have all welcomed the move.