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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 2605

Senator VANSTONE —I refer the attention of the Minister for Education to Tuesday's report concerning a memo from the Director of Special Programs in the South Australian Department of Education, describing as inequitable a move by the State Government to increase the State's charge for administering a federally funded program for disadvantaged students. The program in question is the participation and equity program. The memo in question states:

As this programme addresses the needs of disadvantaged students in schools targeted through aggregated disadvantage, such a move is a direct removal of resources from a program for the disadvantaged to general revenue.

I ask the Minister: First, has the State Government communicated to the Federal Government its intention to increase administrative charges related to PEP? Secondly, what consultation has taken place between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Government on the management of PEP? Thirdly, what steps will the Minister take to ensure that the State does not milk Commonwealth or PEP students?

Senator RYAN —The participation and equity program is a decentralised program in that the actual projects that are to be funded under the program are approved at a State level. I, as the Commonwealth Minister, receive those recommendations but I accept the recommendations of the State Ministers. There are, of course, extensive guidelines within which the programs must operate, but it is a program which is essentially State-based in that respect. I have no knowledge of the minute to which the honour- able senator refers, which is not surprising since it is one from the South Australian Department of Education, nor do I know what could be referred to in terms of the administrative charges involved in PEP. I will have to take that question on notice. Obviously the Commonwealth has extensive consultations with the South Australian Government over a whole range of education matters. I would like to place on record the fact that those negotiations are always very satisfactory and handled very well, and we regard the State Government in South Australia as a very important partner of ours in the exercise of improving educational standards for children in South Australia. As for the specific minute and the matters raised in it, I will take that on notice.