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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - in reply - It is generally agreed that there is a shortage of teachers and that that is one of the major problems in education in Australia. Equally it is a problem in other advanced countries. The pressures in Australia are great, particularly because of our rapid rate of expansion. But the Commonwealth Government, in presenting this Bill, is making a massive attack on the problem by providing $30m for allocation to the States for the erection of teacher training colleges. This sum is for the 3-year period commencing on 1st July this year.

In answering generally some of the matters raised by honourable members in this debate I want to point out that this is not the only way in which the Commonwealth is tackling the problem of the shortage of teachers. It is supporting the recurrent and capital expenditure of the universities and so far as they are training teachers this support is directed at that objective. In the same way the Commonwealth is making grants to colleges of advanced education which are adopting courses for teachers. This practice has been in operation since the beginning of the year and it represents another attack on this problem. Furthermore there are many teachers who do not go to teacher training colleges but who take Commonwealth scholarships at universities. The Commonwealth is assisting the attack on this problem not only by means of direct grants for the recurrent expenditure of universities and colleges but by means of its scholarship schemes.

I want now to comment on some of the points raised by individual members. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) suggested that it might be a mistake to establish a teachers training college at Townsville and that it should have been established at Charters Towers. I remind him that it rests with a State government te say where a particular college should be established. The Commonwealth does not attempt to direct State governments where to establish colleges. It does not say that they should be at one place rather than another. There is a great deal of latitude not only as to where they should be but as to the actual plans. These matters rest largely in the hands of the State governments. At least the teacher training college at Townsville will be associated with the James Cook University of North Queensland which may be expected to grow and to be a useful complementary institution. Also, the Australian Institute of Marine Science is to be at Townsville. Therefore Townsville will be an area where people training their young minds will be able to associate with other people of high professional standard in a number of fields.

The honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen) spent a good deal of time referring to the general problems of education and those affecting teachers, lt is true, as he said, that there are other problems affecting teachers which are not touched upon by this Bill. It may be said that teachers need aids or aides, that they need more in-service training and so on. Of course anyone can make this sort of comment. But this is rather appropriate to the survey which is being conducted at the present time where the needs for the next 5 years in these and other areas are being assessed. The States and the Commonwealth will be looking at this in conjunction. It is not related to this Bill.

The honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) referred to the desirability of having residential accommodation. He pointed out that the Launceston teachers college library facilities, for example, were not used at night because the students did not reside near the college. He said that there was a need for residential accommodation. This is a sound point in my view. 1 point out that the States are not precluded from providing out of the moneys allocated some residential accommodation as part of their building programme. Indeed, in the plans which have already been tentatively submitted - they are not bound to - at least 3 of the States have in fact included in their plans some provision for residential accommodation attached to teacher training colleges.

The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) was concerned to do some analysis of the word ng of the second reading speech. He seemed to be troubled by the reference to this increase being designed to assist the States with their teacher education programmes at a realistic and reasonable level. It is true that in arriving at the figure one would obtain projections of the need for teachers in the various States. But that is not the end of the matter. The need is very great. There are other practical factors which come into assessing what is an appropriate figure to give. In some circumstances you could give so much that the material resources and the resources of manpower to erect colleges in the 3 year term could not cope with the amount given There is a limitation on what can be realistically, properly and reasonably used by the States, having regard to their plans, resources, materials and men available.

A further factor which has to be taken into account is the capacity of the State to administer the staff of a teacher training college when it has been erected. What staff it will have available to maintain and service that institution, and how far it will be able to maintain it? The States obviously have to be consulted on a plan of this. kind. Lengthy consultations took place with the various States. They were asked to submit what they could do in the period to meet this objective of overtaking the shortage of teachers, lt is not suggested that this 3 year period which we are discussing will completely overtake this shortage, but it is a reasonable and realistic level of assistance towards that end, having regard to what the States want and what they are capable of handling.

The honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) said that in New South Wales the last 3 year programme in which an amount of $24m was provided, ends on 30th June this year. He suggested that this programme mainly replaced old buildings and did not really provide many new places. I think that is what he was putting.

Mr Reynolds - Overall for the State.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I do not have the precise figures for New South Wales. The honourable member may be interested in the overall figures for Australia during that triennium. In the triennium ending 30th June 1970, there were 4,350 new places provided by the scheme and 1,130 replacement places. He was referring to places where there is already a place but in an old building and the new building provides a place which simply substitutes for that old place. There was an overlap to the extent of 1,300, but there was a surplus, that is, a distinct and full advantage of new places to the extent of 4,350. The programme we are considering will provide 6,000 new and replacement places. I do not have with me the precise break-up.

Mr Reynolds - You are talking about the whole of Australia?

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is right. I cannot give the honourable member the figures for New South Wales. I do not have them with me. I suggest that the figures of 4,350 new places against 1,300 replacement places do not bear out the kind of proportion which the honourable member was suggesting was the position.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

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