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Friday, 10 November 2000
Page: 19706


Senator ELLISON (Special Minister of State) (1:32 PM) —The eligibility applies to all new non-government schools since May 1999. I think that answers Senator Allison's question. With reference to Senator Brown's previous comment, there is a small thing called the Constitution in this matter and that bestows upon the state governments that responsibility in relation to education, and government schooling is squarely within the responsibility of the state governments. If we were to intrude into the area, Senator Brown, all sorts of problems would arise, and I daresay the states would be the first to raise that very issue. Any establishment of new government schools is really a question for the states. It is not a question of the Commonwealth not wanting to deal with it; it is a question of the Constitution and what is legitimately the responsibility of the states. It is unfair of anyone to suggest that this is something that we could get around or that we should be doing. The Constitution speaks for itself.