The NSW government is flouting Freedom of Information laws to conceal the bankrolling of Catholic World Youth Day, President of the Secular Party of Australia, John Perkins said.

It has been reported that constituents have sought details on funding via the FOI act. Fees were paid to retrieve this information, but when received, all the relevant figures had been deleted. Citizens have a right to know how their taxes are spent. To withhold this information is contemptuous behaviour from a government supposed to be acting on behalf of their constituents.

Reports of a leaked briefing to priests allege the cost of the day has now blown out to $150 million. Federal grants are funding 20 to 24 per cent of this figure. In addition to this is $41 million compensation for the use of Randwick racecourse and $20 million for services such as policing, security and sleeping accommodation at public schools. Some estimates calculate the real cost to be in excess of $200 million even before consideration of the carbon footprint.

We are told our Australian governments are secular. 25.8% of Australians are Catholic. This is nothing but state-sponsored religion for just a quarter of the population.

Public education, the health system and other exemplary components of our community routinely beg for funding which is often refused. This outrageous waste of public funds to support a Catholic World Youth Day pilgrimage cannot be justified.

Apr 2, 2008