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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2342

Senator HARRADINE(10.18) —I have not been involved in the discussions or the debate over the evidence that has been given to Estimates Committee D. However, I have noted some of the matters that have emerged therefrom. I believe that the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Senator Ryan) needs to accept certain responsibilities for the concerns that have been expressed on the question of surveys. She has not adequately responded to these concerns in the community which were alerted by an article by Margot O'Neill in the Melbourne Age of 13 March 1984. That article stated:

The Government has decided against spending $50,000 to help head off criticism of this year's financial guidelines for non-Government schools, due in July.

The article went on:

The Education Minister, Senator Ryan, asked for the extra money in a letter to the finance Minister, Mr Dawkins, in January.

In the letter, Senator Ryan said that the Government had experienced serious problems in putting its policies across and that this was of vital concern. The letter says: 'Because of controversy surrounding this area of policy, we need to try to ascertain why our message is not getting through.'

Senator Ryan proposed that outside experts be commissioned to research public attitudes 'so that we can develop a better public relations strategy in time for the crucial 1984 guidelines decisions'.

She told 'The Age' that the money would have been used to finance a survey which in part would have tried to identify how far some principals at non- Government schools and some Catholic parish priests had co-operated with those lobby groups which had spread misinformation about the Government's policies.

My simple question to her today is this: Was this survey proposed by her Department? Once having obtained the information, what was its intended use? My third simple question is: Are any of the questions in that proposed survey included in the survey under question at the moment?