Nile denies power sale support linked to education changes

NSW Premier Mike Baird
NSW Premier Mike Baird Craig Warhurst


CHRISTIAN Democrats Leader Fred Nile has denied accusations his support for the privatisation of NSW's electricity assets hinges on the NSW Government's removal of references to secular ethics classes from public school enrolment forms.

But he will support the plan with the "usual full commitment of the Christian Democratic Party".

Rev Nile led a parliamentary inquiry into the proposed leasing of the state's "poles and wires" power assets and gave the plan his tick of approval yesterday, subject to several conditions.

But he denied any link to the government's proposal to only ask parents to nominate their children's religion on school enrolment forms, rather than allowing them to enrol their children in non-religious ethics classes.

"The proposal simply requests an indication of a child's religion on school enrolment forms," he said.

"Many would not hesitate to supply such straight forward and general information on school enrolment forms.

"The Greens MP John Kaye is again, making ridiculous false statements, trying to interlink the proposed privatisation with religious studies in schools."

Despite his denial over a connection to power privatisation, Rev Nile said the plan to remove secular ethics classes from school enrolment forms had his full support.

"It's been a well-known fact, that for 34 years now in state politics, that I'm committed and dedicated to maintaining a strong Judeo-Christian society," he said.

"Many Australians are proud that our nation is predominantly Christian and it is vital that our children are offered an opportunity to attend special religious education classes in our schools which aim to guide and educate children on the values and principles of their chosen faith.

"I can assure concerned citizens and religious groups, that I will fully support the proposed changes to special religious education in schools and that I'll pursue it with the usual full commitment of the Christian Democratic Party. " stated Rev Fred Nile.


EARLIER: Baird's religious education deal to 'sweeten' minor party

THE Baird Government has been accused of taking a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" stance on religious education after fast-tracking a request to remove all references to secular ethics classes from school enrolment forms.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said taking away a choice between religious and secular ethics education reeked of a government attempt to sweeten up the Christian Democrats.

"It appears as if Mr Baird is pandering to the state's principal opponent of ethics classes, the Rev Fred Nile MLC - who also happens to have the deciding vote on electricity privatisation," he said.

"When it comes to ethics classes in NSW public schools, it is the wishes of the students and their parents that should and must come first.

"The state should not prefer one form of instruction over another when it comes to scripture and ethics classes."

Parents are currently given the option to opt out of religious education classes for their children when enrolling them at school.

The proposed changes would remove any reference to ethics classes and only ask parents to nominate their children's religion.

There were about 4.8 million Australians - 22% of the population - who said they had "no religion" at the 2011 Census.

Only Catholicism had a higher rate of answer at 25%, followed by Anglicanism at third-highest with 17% of the population.


Topics:  new politics south wales

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