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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 167


Senator FOREMAN —I refer the Minister for Education to the report by the Economic Planning Advisory Council released last week advising that a lack of entrepreneurship in Australia is limiting our capacity to exploit opportunities in high technology industries. One way to lift the economic performance of the business sector is to provide an injection of funds into specialised areas such as management education. Can the Minister advise the Senate what contribution the Government has made to management education in Australia?


Senator RYAN —I did find myself in agreement with the conclusions of that EPAC paper which stated that managerial expertise in Australia is very weak-there is not enough of it-and by implication the education system should be producing better managers. I am sure that my colleague Senator John Button would agree that one of the main reasons why Australia is having so much difficulty in restructuring the economy is not that workers are unskilled or do not work hard enough or long enough hours but that we are lacking in managerial and entrepreneurial skills of an adequate standard. In recognition of this our Government has a policy of assisting in the development of very high standard management education. For example, we have given special funding to the post-graduate school of business studies at the University of Melbourne-that was a decision of our first Budget-and in the recent Budget we made a grant of three-quarters of a million dollars for new facilities for Macquarie University's burgeoning post-graduate school of business administration. I point out that in both cases we entered into a partnership with the business communities in both those cities. A consortium of industry leaders has raised a couple of million dollars for the Macquarie post-graduate business school. Those leaders are involved in the planning and curriculum of that school. It is a very good example of the new kind of partnership our Government is building up between educational institutions and industry where both contribute and both get a benefit and the result ought to be a much better calibre of business manager and entrepreneur coming on to the business scene.

As well as that, through a number of special research centres and a key centre for teaching and research projects, we have assisted in the development of business management education. The decision two Budgets ago to allow a 150 per cent tax rebate for industry funds going into university or college research has meant that there is not only more research money coming into the universities and more opportunities for post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers to work in these areas but also a much closer relationship between the content of the research work carried out under this program and the needs of the industry that is substantially funding it.

So I welcome the EPAC report. It drew attention to a major defect in our economy and in Australian business. It is a defect of which we have been aware for some time and I have referred to a number of the steps that we are taking to overcome it. I would like to place on record my appreciation of the total co-operation we are receiving in this effort from major corporations, business councils and so forth.