The NSW Government yesterday pushed legislation through both houses of parliament which is aimed at ensuring that ethics classes are run in competition with Scripture classes in NSW schools even if the Opposition wins the election next March.

The move followed on from the NSW Opposition’s announcement on November 23 that they would scrap the St James Ethics Centre’s secular ethics classes if they won office – a decision which was welcomed by the ACL.

NSW Education Minister Verity Firth introduced the amendment to the Education Act which takes the policy decision about whether ethics classes should be held out of the hands of future Ministers by specifying in legislation that schools are able to offer ethics classes to students who opt out of Scripture.

This was a cynical response which effectively tries to disenfranchise the many concerned community members who might choose to vote for a change on this issue. However the NSW Opposition appears to be maintaining its resolve to remove the ethics classes at the end of next year (allowing any classes already in place at the election to see out the school year).

ACL is not opposed to the idea of children being taught ethics in schools but we have strong reservations about the ethics syllabus and are concerned that the ethics classes – something all children should be able to attend – are to be run in competition with Scripture classes.