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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2078

Senator TEAGUE —My question, which is directed to the Minister for Education, concerns the Government's long awaited response to the national language policy report brought down by the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts in December 1984. When I ask for the fourth time at six-month intervals, will the Government bring down its response? Tomorrow? Is it true that some weeks ago the Minister had 3,000 copies of the national language policy, written for the Government by Mr Lo Bianco, printed but not distributed-that is, this Government's consultant's recommended comprehensive response to the Senate Committee? Why has it been withheld when the Prime Minister on Sunday in Melbourne commended it to ethnic communities so very generously? Finally, has the Minister seen the Australian Financial Review article of 16 April titled `Language Plan Loser in Spending Squeeze'? Are the allegations of defeat and, in particular, that the Government has no remedy for its own cuts to English as a second language program substantially correct?

Senator RYAN —I was going to begin by commending Senator Teague for being so patient in this matter because I know he has had a long-standing interest. However, the last part of his rather lengthy question is one that I will have to dismiss because as the Senate knows it is the practice of Ministers not to comment on any speculation about budgetary matters. However, no doubt Senator Teague took heart from this statement made by the Prime Minister on Sunday in which he said not only that the Government endorses the general thrust of the Lo Bianco report but also that there would be an appropriate budgetary decision in relation to it. As the Prime Minister has made that statement I have immediately taken steps to have the report tabled. I hope that that will be possible tomorrow. The only thing I am waiting on is the assurance that there are adequate copies for all the many people who will be interested.