Good news for once.
- The Islamic Council has refused to hand over Australia’s biggest Islamic school
- Sydney’s Malek Fahd Islamic school was stripped of $19m in taxpayer funding
- A tribunal upheld government’s decision to defund Malek Fahd Islamic School
- It found millions were funnelled to Australian Federation of Islamic Councils
The Islamic Council has refused to hand over the land of Australia’s biggest Muslim school after being found guilty of using the institution to funnel millions in cash.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal on Thursday upheld the Federal Government’s decision last February to strip Sydney’s Malek Fahd Islamic school of $19 million in government funding.
The school is expected to continue pocketing funding while appealing the decision in the federal court, reports Sydney Morning Herald.
On Friday the school council implored the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils relinquish the grounds to the community.
According to the school council, Saudi monarch Malek Fahd donated millions of dollars to the Islamic administrative body to build the school in 1989.
‘The latest newsletter from the school board calling on AFIC to hand over ownership of school land…is an attempt to take ownership of community property without proper justification,’ said AFIC’s president Keysar Trad.
He admitted the federation established the school with a $1 million gift from King Fahd, but refused they should be expected to concede the land.
‘We are the landlord, they are the tenant, we always have been. The school council has cancelled every meeting we have requested with them.’
This week the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled the school at Greenacre was ‘at minimum’ run for profit and not a fit and proper organisation.
The tribunal found that though improvements were made to how the school was run, there was an ‘ongoing burden of the uncommercial arrangements with AFIC’.
Malek Fahd is 80 per cent government funded and may now be forced to close, putting hundreds of teachers and staff out of work and displacing 2,400 students.
‘Malek Fahd cannot survive without public funding. We only have sufficient funds to continue to the end of the second term at the end of June,’ the school told parents last year.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham welcomed the ruling, saying it ended 18 months of uncertainty.
‘Australians rightly expect that every taxpayer dollar committed to school education is genuinely expended on school education,’ he said.
‘Our attention now turns to working with the students and their families, the teachers and the whole school community about how we best support them through this difficult time.
‘While this is a difficult time, I remain committed to ensuring that all school authorities meet the requirements of the Education Act to ensure that our taxpayer dollars and any private investment by parents is being spent to benefit Australian students.’