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Wednesday, 15 May 1985
Page: 1979

Senator PETER BAUME —My question to the Minister for Education relates to that part of her Press release of 14 May which states:

. . . in the case of the schools programs, expenditure reductions had been made from the beginning of 1986 in respect of the programs for English as a Second Language, Special Education, Multicultural Education, Country Areas . . .

So it goes on. As each of the programs mentioned is directed towards the relief of disadvantage, will the Minister provide details of where the cuts will fall and what form they will take to achieve the savings of $13.3m referred to in the Press release?

Senator RYAN —I can give those details to the Senate now, but I should point out that not all special programs of the Commonwealth Schools Commission have been reduced. Those that have been reduced have had very slight reductions in relatively large budgets, so the effect should be relatively minor. The program specifically aimed at disadvantaged schools-the disadvantaged schools program-has not suffered any reductions at all. The effect that these small reductions in several of the programs will have on schools will be a matter for discussion with the Schools Commission. The detailed information that Senator Baume seeks is as follows: There will be a $1.3m reduction in the English as a second language program for the financial year. I point out that that is for the general element of that program and not for the new arrivals element. The new arrivals element, which is aimed at assisting children most needing the English as a second language course, has not been reduced. The special education program will be reduced by $0.8m, and the integration element by $0.12m, in the financial year.

The libraries element of the capital program will be reduced by $10.8m in the financial year. I should point out that the reason the Government decided that that program could be wound up is that the review of the capital program which is currently being completed by the Schools Commission indicates that the purpose of that earmarking of capital funds for libraries has now substantially been achieved. That earmarking of capital funds was designed to raise the standard of libraries in schools throughout Australia and, with very few exceptions, a report to the Schools Commission has assessed that objective as having been successfully achieved. Also, schools which wish to make application for the building of libraries as part of the general capital program will still be able to do so, and extra recurrent funds, which have been legislated for in respect of all schools, will be able to be spent on library materials. So we do not expect that there will be any downgrading of libraries as a result of that decision.

The multicultural educational program will be cut by $0.1m for the financial year and the country areas program will be cut by $0.2m. That represents a total saving of $13.3m. As I said, each program which has suffered a slight reduction is a large program. The general effects should be very slight. They will not be known in detail until I have had discussions with the Schools Commission.