High proportion of Catholics in PM's cabinet

PM Tony Abbott

Nearly half of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's cabinet have a Catholic background, roughly double the 25 per cent of Australians who described themselves as Catholics at the last census, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Author Roy Williams, who has written about religion in Australian politics, says this marks an extraordinary departure, especially for the Liberal Party, which has traditionally 'been a party of mainstream Protestantism.'

'It is the exact reverse of past Liberal Party cabinets,' he said. 'At one stage during the prime ministership of Robert Menzies, there was only one Catholic Liberal Party member in the House of Representatives." Abbott, a former seminarian, is the first Liberal Party Prime Minister who is a Catholic, says Williams.

Private schooling is another characteristic that sets the new cabinet apart. Nearly 80 per cent went to a private school, more than double the share of private school students in the population. Two members of cabinet, Mr Abbott and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, attended the same private school, Sydney's St Ignatius College, Riverview.

FULL STORY Few women, lots of private school Catholics in Tony's cabinet