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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2386

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill amends the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act in 5 ways: It makes provision for special superannuation arrangements for New South Wales and South Australian teachers now teaching in Commonwealth schools; it provides benefits by way of book and equipment allowance to Commonwealth Teaching Service scholars; it provides benefits by way of special financial assistance for Commonwealth Teaching Service scholars; it repeals existing provisions for officers absent from duty in relation to child birth; and it enables the Commissioner to provide, and the authorities to use, members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service for special educational duties.

The special superannuation arrangements for the New South Wales and South Australian teachers will allow those teachers who elect to join the Commonwealth Teaching Service to transfer their current superannuation contributions and benefits without additional cost, without medical examination and without probation. In the absence of this amendment it would be very difficult for many of these teachers to transfer to the Commonwealth Teaching Service. In a large number of cases the additional cost of superannuation would be such that there would be real hardship involved in making the transfer.

Earlier this year the Government decided that the holder of a Commonwealth Teaching Service scholarship should be given an annual book and equipment allowance of $80. The existing provisions of section 45 of the Act do not cover a benefit of this kind, and it is necessary therefore to add to the legislation to encompass this benefit. Similarly there is nothing in the existing section 45 of the Act which covers the accommodation costs incurred by the holders of Commonwealth Teaching Service scholarships who undertake practice teaching in places remote from their training institution. It is considered that the holder of one of these scholarships who undertakes practice teaching, for example, in the Northern Territory, should be assisted with the accommodation expenses incurred in the Territory. The Bill makes provision for this.

It is proposed that separate legislation should be introduced which will provide for a Commonwealth code in relation to maternity leave similar to that which operates in other matters which apply to the generality of Commonwealth employment, for example, compensation and furlough. This legislation repeals existing provisions of the Act which relate to maternity leave.

The definition of teaching duties contained in section 4 of the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act appears to limit the ways in which members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service may be employed. No modern education system can operate without the services of persons with teacher training and with teaching background and experience who have special competence in a variety of fields. These services are not only needed in schools. There will always be responsibilities in head offices of education authorities which call for qualities most likely to be possessed by members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service. Examples are. educational research, curriculum development, the preparation of text materials and teaching aids, to say nothing of guidance and counselling services, including psychological and educational clinics. Other support services attached to education authorities include master teachers who can be used to visit schools and by example, guidance and encouragement raise the quality of teaching. The amendment contained in clause 4 of the Bill is designed to widen the. function of the Commonwealth Teaching Service Commissioner to meet .the requirements I have outlined.

The Commonwealth Teaching Service carries responsibility for the education of a significant proportion of the Aboriginal child population of Australia, some of these children being taught in their own languages. Part of the Teaching Service may in future form the expatriate teaching service in Papua New Guinea, carrying responsibility for secondary and technical education there. In Arnhem Land the Service operates in one of the world's most precious ecological environments. It must work to give equality of opportunity to all children in the Northern Territory - children who live under some factors of disadvantage in their schooling. It is also the teaching force for the Australian Capital Territory, which ought to be a laboratory for new and valid educational ideas. The Commonwealth Teaching Service's responsibilities to the nation - and probably in future to other nations - are therefore very great and its calibre should be very high.

The steps taken in the Bill today are all steps towards creating such a teaching service. They coincide with action being taken to launch an extensive school expansion and improvement program in the Northern Territory, and with the establishment of secondary colleges in Canberra. These colleges will constitute a form of broad and high calibre secondary education, recognising in its scope and structure the adult status of fifth and sixth formers. I believe Parliament should enact this legislation.

Debate (on motion by Mr Gorton) adjourned.

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