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Tuesday, 8 November 1983
Page: 2366

Mr HOWARD —I ask the Prime Minister: In light of the strength of his expression of concern for the position of the poorer Catholic schools in our education system, will he give an unequivocal assurance that the cancelling of the former Government's funding formula for non-state schools will not in any circumstances in the future result in a lower level of funding for the poorer Catholic parochial schools than would have obtained from a continuation of that formula? In answering the question, can the Prime Minister explain why his colleague the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs has on several occasions declined to give such an assurance in response to similar questions in the Senate?

Mr HAWKE —This Government's education policy in general, and the funding aspect of it in particular, will not be determined by a consideration of what may have been in the mind of the previous Government, because that Government's policy was an unmitigated disaster. We have a clear view of the appropriate education policy to be followed and of the funding requirements under that policy. It is not a policy which has been arrived at simply by internal discussion within the Australian Labor Party; it has been arrived at after widespread discussion throughout the community with the public and the private education systems, including the Catholic education system.

Mr Howard —Answer the question. Why don't you answer the question?

Mr HAWKE —That policy, which was put to the people of Australia at the election on 5 March, was one of the reasons why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is sitting on the other side of the House now. As we did in the consideration of our Budget this year, we will ensure as we go into the Budget considerations next year that the highest possible allocation of funds is available to this Government for the education system and that those funds will be allocated in a way which combines the requirements of efficiency and equity. It is because that policy, which, as I have said, was so widely accepted in March, will continue to be effective, that we will on the next occasion we are returned to office, continue for a much longer period to implement it.