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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1039

Senator ROBERTSON —Has the attention of the Minister for Education been drawn to a Press report in yesterday's West Australian from the shadow Minister for Education, Senator Baume, entitled: 'Ryan in cover up'? In this report Senator Baume claims that the Minister is in breach of the States Grants (Schools Assistance) Act. He also alleges that the Minister for Education is hiding funding classifications of non-government schools. Since this is unlikely to be the case, I ask the Minister: What is the real situation?

Senator RYAN —I must say that I find it regrettable that Senator Baume is persisting in his useless and negative strategy of putting out statements based on absolute falsehood and deliberately attempting to mislead the education community about matters of Government policy. There may well be matters of legitimate or authentic debate between the Government and Opposition on matters of education policy. Unfortunately Senator Baume has decided to avoid those and simply spends his time running about trying to stir up mischief by deliberately misleading anyone who is gullible enough to take notice of what he has printed in the Press. The facts are quite contrary to what Senator Baume claims in his Press release. Not only are they contrary to his public claim; they are also well known to Senator Baume. I am aware of this because I am aware that Senator Baume sought from the Schools Commission advice about the timing of the gazettal of the new categories system for the funding of non-government schools and was given advice, based on legal advice from the Attorney-General's Department, to the effect that the Schools Commission and indeed the Government were conforming with the legal requirements with regard to the gazettal of schools.

The fact is that a period had elapsed since the announcement of the new scheme and the completion of the categorisation of individual schools into that scheme. However, I should point out that that time is not inconsiderable in comparison with the time that elapsed during the period of the Fraser Government. When Senator Baume was Minister for Education, for example, the list of schools categories was not available until November in the relevant year.

I believe that the publication of the categorisation of schools will be available very shortly because the list has been approved by me for gazettal. It was approved by me for gazettal last week and any time that elapses now between my approval and the gazettal will simply be a matter of the Government Printer getting the information into the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.

All schools have been notified individually, with very few exceptions, those exceptions being due to some holdups in the provision of data. Of course, once schools are gazetted they are entitled to appeal if they believe they have grounds to go into a more favourable category. The vast bulk of schools have been notified of their categories for for some time. The list has been approved by me for gazettal and is with the Government Printer now. All of these steps are in accordance with legal requirements.

I conclude by saying that I think it is regrettable that Senator Baume chooses to act in such a deliberately misleading fashion, when there are no grounds for such behaviour, instead of paying attention to the real issues that confront educationalists in our society.