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Wednesday, 9 November 1983
Page: 2483

Mrs CHILD —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. What is the effect of the Government's education policies on the poorer Catholic parochial schools? Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the funding for these schools will not be reduced?

Mr HAWKE —I am very glad to see the deep interest of my friends on the other side of the House on this question. Because of their deep interest I know that they will listen intently to the answer. Not only am I able to assure the House that grants in respect of students of poorer Catholic schools will not be reduced by the education policies of this Government, but also I can confirm to the House that under our policies grants in respect of those students in 1984 will increase in real terms by 3 per cent.

May I point out-I hope honourable members opposite listen to this even more closely-that under the previous Government's policy schools at which those students are enrolled would have received $5m less.

Mr Simmons —How much?

Mr HAWKE —Five million dollars less under the previous Government's policy. The Government is providing a significant boost to education funding for non- government schools in 1984, a rise of about 1 1/2 per cent in real terms over 1983.

In addition, the Government has assured the schools that the funds will be distributed in a way which achieves much greater equity than previously. As we have made quite clear, this will entail a significant redistribution of funds away from a small number of better-off private schools towards other non- government schools. In particular, as I pointed out, some funds will be directed away from the 41 wealthiest non-government schools to those in greatest need. Not only do we not make any apology for this, but also we are proud that in the process of having to deal with a range of demands upon limited resources we have been able to increase funding and do it in a more equitable way.

May I conclude by reminding the House that there are over 2,000 non-government schools in Australia. The great bulk of these 2,000 plus non-government schools- over 90 per cent-will be better off under this Government's funding policies for 1984. In particular, grants in respect of over half a million students at non- government schools will increase by 3 per cent in real terms in 1984.