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Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 639


Senator PETER BAUME(9.57) —in reply-The remarks made by the Minister for Education (Senator Ryan) require comment on three points. Her explanations make it quite clear that Senator Macklin was correct, I think I made the same point: Australian institutions are under-funded, by the Government's own admission, in regard to the needs of their students. I say to the Minister with the best of goodwill that once this statement is issued she will have the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee and the directors of the colleges asking her the obvious kinds of questions-the questions that Senator Macklin asked-because there is a disparity. There is a dislocation between the figures she cited in the statement and the figures on which the grants to the universities and colleges are made. That is my first comment.

The second comment is that the Minister said that one of the reasons why she found the Jackson approach difficult was that its costings were very high and it would have required very high payments. It is quite clear that the Government's costings are high. To say that 35 per cent of full fees is $3,500 a year is based on a high cost figure. In fact, the Minister has offered no real criticism of the Jackson approach. The only criticism was that she thought the figures were high. But she has adopted the same kinds of figures. Both Senator Macklin's remarks and mine made it clear that we believe that the Minister has missed solving the central question. That question is that the racism and distress on Australian campuses are related only to one thing. They are not related to costs; they are related to an apparent displacement of resident Australians. The Minister is correct. Some of it was exacerbated by high concentrations of students at the Kensington campus of the University of New South Wales in the faculties of computing and architecture. All right; I accept that. I also accept that Professor Goldring was correct when he said: 'Spread them around and they will be less noticeable'. But that does not solve the problem.

All that is required to solve the problem is for the Minister to say that there will be a guaranteed number of places on Australian campuses for resident Australians and there will be extra places in accordance with whatever policy the Government wants to lay down in regard to overseas students. The policy should encompass all the different categories of circumstances of overseas students to which she has just referred. I do not object to that, but it has to be preceded by an announcement that there will be a guaranteed number of places for resident Australians and that those places will not be put in jeopardy, no matter what happens. I appeal to the Minister to go back and consider that point again, because I believe she could turn what Senator Macklin called a half-way house into a better product if only she would do that. It could have been done. It has not been done, and therefore the problems before the Government will not go away. It is our desire that they should go away. It is our desire that the Government should get back to some degree of amity and harmony on campuses, but that will not happen with the solution it has laid down. I hope the Government will evolve further its solution and will look at the need to resolve that central question. It is the failure to resolve that central question which makes the Goldring approach unsatisfactory from our point of view.

Question resolved in the affirmative.