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Thursday, 28 March 1957


Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay (BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -

Order! I ask the honorable member for Forrest to cease interjecting.


Mr BEAZLEY - The figures that I have cited represent a very slow deterioration in the employment situation. A complete picture of the unemployment in Fremantle does not appear. If the waterside workers there averaged one day's work in seven, as was recently the position, there would be almost complete unemployment on the waterfront. But it would not be taken into account in the unemployment statistics, although it would most certainly be apparent in reduced expenditure in the local shops. Because appearance money is paid to waterside workers, they dp not apply for unemployment benefit. However, the unemployment statistics that I have cited indicate a lower level of commercial activity in Western Australia than in the other States. A great many administrative acts of all

Commonwealth governments, though appropriate to the situation in the industrialized east, have not been appropriate to the situation in the agricultural west, and I think that credit restrictions have had a greater effect in Western Australia than in the eastern States where there are so many alternative fields of occupation, spheres of investment, and sources of finance. In Western Australia, a great deal of elementary work is still needed to meet the elementary needs of a civilized community, and the credit restrictions operating in Western Australia as a result of this Government's policy are preventing the responsible authorities from undertaking that elementary work.

The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) addressed the House yesterday afternoon on the subject of education. I commend the Government on its decision to give greater financial assistance to the universities. Their financial needs are the product of our changing times.

In the Western world, we have had to recognize that the number of technicians we are training is inadequate; the number of engineers being trained is inadequate, and so on. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory spoke of the Canberra High School and other Canberra schools and referred to the privileges at the Canberra High School. I do not know as much about education in the Australian Capital Territory as he does, but I am sorry to hear that we have in existence in this Capital Territory the scholarship system to which he referred, because it is wholly and utterly invalid. A survey carried out by a former headmaster of Perth Modern School showed that the children who are selected at the age of twelve as being those who should get a secondary education are not necessarily the ones who get exhibitions at the age of seventeen, and that those who get exhibitions at the age of seventeen are not necessarily the ones who do the best at the universities. Different individuals develop at different rates and at different periods of time iri their lives they show excellence. If it be true, as the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory said, that the children are trained like race-horses to gain scholarships, then what is already a false index has been further falsified in the existence of a scholarship system.

What we do not recognize here are the low standards that we accept in education as normal. As a teacher, 1 taught classes of 50, and a class of 50 cannot be educated; it can only be dragooned. The same is true in this Australian Capital Territory. I have some friends who have come from Canada and what staggered them was seeing their children assigned to classes of 50 when they had been used to having their children in classes of fifteen. One private school in the Australian Capital Territory - I do not know about State schools, but I imagine they are in the same position - has had its enrolment increased this year by 80 and the increase is estimated at 100 a year for the next four years. It has already absorbed the cafeteria as a classroom, and expects to have to use the boiler-house next. There has been an enormous increase in the juvenile population in the Australian Capital Territory. The standard of staffing is inadequate. Teachers have much too large classes, and there does not seem to be an immediate prospect of providing accommodation for all the children. One thing is vital, because it will have a great effect on this country in the future: there is an urgent need for the civil servants of this Territory to have respect for craftsmen. Canberra has a very fine technical school with absolutely nothing surrounding it that would give prestige to its work. It is badly accommodated, but members of its staff really give their hearts to the pupils they are training. As the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has said, a high proportion of Canberra, people are university graduates. My wife and I are university [graduates, but the bent of one of my children, I am certain, is technical. It would be a very good thing if the people who are the advisers of the Commonwealth Government had respect for craftsmen. I do feel this is an unbalanced community which does not properly respect the craftsman and I believe it to be most desirable that the Commonwealth Government should provide for those children who show their intelligence through their hands. They are :by no means .inferior, and are vitally .necessary to society.







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