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Archbishop Meets Prime Minister

02 Aug 2010

Article and Photographs by Fr Robert Cross

The Archbishop of Perth, His Grace Barry James Hickey, met today with the Prime Minister, The Honourable Julia Gillard.
They were joined by the Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, Monsignor Michael Keating, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Member for Perth, The Honourable Stephen Smith, and the Archbishop’s Executive Assistant, Fr Robert Cross.
The meeting, meant to be held at St Mary’s Cathedral to show the Prime Minister the recently completed and restored St Mary’s Cathedral, had to be relocated at the last minute to the Prime Minister's Perth accommodation due to unforeseen circumstances.
Both the Archbishop and Monsignor Keating, took the opportunity to thank the Prime Minister and The Honourable Stephen Smith for the generous financial support given by the Federal Government for the completion and restoration programme of the Cathedral and expressed a hope the Prime Minister would be able to tour the Cathedral at a future date.
The meeting afforded the Archbishop an opportunity to explain to the Prime Minister the media misrepresentation of his statement encouraging people of religious conviction to be politically active. The Prime Minster said that as a politician she knew full well about media misrepresentation, and said she fully supported the Archbishop’s comments for people of religious conviction to be politically active.
Monsignor Keating, in his capacity as Chair of the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia, thanked the Prime Minister for the buildings delivered to Catholic schools through the Building Education Revolution (BER), pointing out the efficiency in which Federal Government funds had been spent by the Catholic education sector.
The Prime Minister said she had noted this efficiency and said that the Federal Government had no alternative but to work with the existing bureaucratic systems of State Governments to deliver the Building Education Revolution given the urgency to give much needed support to the economy at the height of the world financial crisis.
Archbishop Hickey raised with the Prime Minister the issue of Aboriginal and Islander disadvantage in Australia, specifically pointing out his own intimate experience and knowledge of urban Aboriginal people in the centre of Perth. He sought the assistance of the Prime Minister to help urban Aboriginal people to remain in education beyond primary school so as to improve their opportunity for employment and dignity.
The Prime Minister fully agreed with the Archbishop and said she would endeavour to draw on the Archbishop’s personal experience in this area in the future.