The story of how governments began providing “state aid” to non-government schools usually starts in 1962 in the NSW town of Goulburn. When school inspectors ordered a parish primary school to build an “additional sanitary convenience” or face closure, the cash-strapped church authorities shut down all seven Goulburn Catholic schools in protest, forcing their students to descend on government schools ill-equipped to cope. After a week of national headlines, the argument that governments had an obligation to help church schools stay open — and a strong financial interest in doing so — had been effectively made. Soon, prime minister Robert Menzies and his government initiated a program of capital funding for church and government schools alike.
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