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Tuesday, 12 October 1971
Page: 2207


Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - Before discussing the estimates for this Department I would like to thank the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) for his conducted tour around the schools of his electorate - mainly the Catholic ones, by the sound of it. I note that he was lauding education on the north shore of Sydney Harbour. But to discuss the estimates, I see that according to the Budget document entitled 'Civil Works Programme 1971-72', the Government will spend $6.22m this year in the Northern Territory on education and science projects. The work will be of some significance for quite a number of schools - 3 infant schools, 10 primary schools, 2 secondary schools, 2 high schools and 4 area schools. Also included in this total is a sum of $3.1m yet to be spent on the Casuarina High School in Darwin and $3.2m yet to be spent on the Alice Springs High School. Proposed works total $8.2m, which includes $4.2m for the Darwin Community College but which does not include expenditure on the Yirrara Aboriginal College which is to be built just south of Alice Springs. This programme includes work on 5 infant schools, 2 primary schools, 3 high schools and 2 area schools at Katherine and Tennant Creek.

Yet we hear continually the Government being attacked by Opposition members for not spending money on government schools. All the schools I have mentioned are government schools. The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) when he spoke earlier in the debate mentioned that expenditure on independent schools in the Northern Territory had increased by 42.7 per cent while expenditure on government schools had increased by 8.5 per cent. In the face of the figures I have just quoted from the Budget documents that is completely and utterly wrong. The works programme on behalf of the Department of Education and Science is as follows: Works in progress, $8. 96m; proposed new works, $8.1m. As I said before, $6.2m will be spent on the works programme for the Department of Education and Science this year compared with last year, when $5.1m was appropriated but only about $4m was used.

So I put it to the Parliament that the Government is planning for the education of the young in the Northern Territory and is really looking ahead to the very fast growing population and the quick growing numbers of children in the Northern Territory. In Division 232, item 01 under subdivision 2 relates to scholarships, boarding and travelling allowances. I see that this year the amount appropriated is $254,600, whereas last year there was an appropriation of $217,000, of which $203,000 was spent. However, under this item I urge the Government to consider revising the boarding allowances of $250 per annum for Northern Territory children living away from home to attend school. The allowance has been at this level for some time and, along with $100 bursaries, it has been free of a means test. This has also been the case with the $100 subsidy for children under 12 years of age who live in the Northern Territory. For children who receive supervision from governesses a subsidy of $100 has been payable for some years. In view of rising costs these amounts need review. When they were introduced they were small enough but now, with rising costs, they are practically negligible.

I also urge the Government to look at the grants it is making to non-government schools. At present the Government grants $55 a head for primary students, $80 for each child in forms 1 and 2, $90 for each child in forms 3 and 4 and $95 for each child in forms 5 and 6. I heard one honourable member say this afternoon that government schools receive $200 to $300 per head. I do not know whether or not that is so because it is very difficult to extract figures for that side of the grants. I urge the Government to look at the level of per capita grants because costs are escalating very considerably. The independent schools in the Northern Territory previously had teachers who belonged to various teaching orders and who were not really paid the full amount that was received by government teachers. These schools are finding that, with the number of students increasing, they now have to employ lay teachers and pay for their accommodation. As a result, costs are rising rapidly. Therefore I urge the Government to keep in mind rising costs when it assesses the assistance it will give to these schools.

Under Division 232, subdivision 2, item 07 I notice the provision of an amount of $3.1m on payments to South Australian Education Department and teacher movement expenses. This amount has been reduced from an expenditure of $3,462,118 last year because of the phasing out of South Australian teachers from the Northern Territory over a period of 5 years. However, I notice also that there is also listed an item: 'Equipment and materials'. Last year the expenditure for this item was estimated at $68,000 and this year the estimate is $80,000. I wonder whether this estimate includes provision for such equipment as projectors and epidiascopes and the like which I find are non-existent in some outback schools. I urge the Government to check on these items and to assist these schools to obtain them because such equipment is in everyday use in schools down south.

Briefly I would like to mention the introduction of the Commonwealth Teaching Service which will be recruiting teachers to take the place of teachers who are employed by the South Australian Teaching Service and who will be phased out by the end of 1976. I am concerned about whether enough teachers will be coming in under the Commonwealth Teaching Service. I believe that 70 teachers were recruited this year and 130 will be required next year. Eventually over 500 teachers will be required. I see that the Government is instituting a scholarship scheme and I hope that this will be able to produce the number of teachers we require. It is absolutely vital that we have a sufficient number of teachers to staff the very fine schools that are being built in the Northern Territory. I believe that the Government proposes to institute 200 scholarships in 1972. The Government is planning ahead and I hope that graduates take advantage of these scholarships.

I notice that in this year's programme the Government is continuing to pay Aboriginal students a living allowance of $1,100 under the Aboriginal study grants scheme, and $300 to those who are living at home. On top of this the Government is paying a textbook allowance. Compulsory fees arc paid together with other allowances for dependants. Some 3,500 students are being trained under the Aboriginal secondary grants scheme. This figure applies all over Australia; it is not restricted to the Northern Territory. Also, 377 students are being trained under the Aboriginal study grants. Finally, I would like to mention the Darwin Community College which is in the estimates for this year.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







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