Exclusive Brethren to teach in Lovely Banks

Geelong Advertiser, Australia/November 28, 2009

Controversial sect the Exclusive Brethren has won the right to build a primary school at Lovely Banks.

The Exclusive Brethren hit the headlines in the lead-up to the last Federal Election when then-prime minister John Howard met with the sect's leadership.

Ironically, sect members do not vote and do not watch television.

Greens leader Bob Brown recently called for an inquiry into the extent of the Exclusive Brethren's influence in federal politics.

Two of the sect's members recently apologised for the publication of advertising material in the lead-up to the 2006 Tasmanian election that urged people against voting for the Greens.

The sect, through its school arm Glenvale Education Inc, was recently granted a permit by the City of Greater Geelong to establish a small primary school in a house at 260 Purnell Rd, Lovely Banks.

Residents Arthur and Joyce Binns appealed the decision to VCAT. The Binns' property is located over the back fence from the school site, and they argued the school would cause unacceptable amenity impacts on the use of the rear part of their house and rear courtyard.

But VCAT member Philip Martin found that the school proposal was reasonable and deserving of planning approval.

The tribunal noted that there was an existing dwelling on the site and it was not planned to immediately add more buildings.

The tribunal was told the school would be directly opposite a church established by the Exclusive Brethren.

A Geelong spokesman for the Exclusive Brethren, Barry Bumpstead, last night confirmed both City Hall and VCAT had now ruled in favour of establishing the school. "I guess it's a pretty straight forward matter," he said.

Mr Martin said in his VCAT finding that there had been some debate about a school so small complying with the relevant federal or state education department guidelines and regulations.

In his judgment, Mr Martin quoted from a letter he received from Glenvale Education dated October 22, 2009.

"The proposed school at 260 Purnell Rd, Lovely Banks, will be a registered Campus of Glenvale School and will comply with the regulations and standards of the VRQA (Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority) in the same respect as all other campuses of Glenvale School in Victoria," the letter said.

"Student numbers are not an issue for campuses of Glenvale School. We currently operate small primary campuses at Glenroy (14 students), Moe (14 students), Stawell (nine students)."

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