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Thursday, 30 August 1973
Page: 643

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honourable member for Warringah was commenting on the Prime Minister in a manner which was not in keeping with the dignity of this House.

Mr MacKELLAR - Let me say that the Prime Minister has a remarkable facility when confronted with difficult questions. The Minister for Education enjoys a different reputation. I believe that it is a deserved reputation for honour and integrity in his statements inside and outside the House. Unfortunately that credibility has been sadly shaken. We have had examples quoted inthe House during this debate. I would just like to reiterate some of the more obvious examples of statements made by the present Minister for Education before he achieved that office and the results now that the Government is in power. The 'Australian' newspaper of 20 November last reported:

Mr Beazleysaid a Labor Government would maintain the existing level of grants to independent schools.

That statement was made on 19 November last year. The article continued: all children, whether at state or private schools, would be equally the concern of a Labor government.

The Sydney 'Daily Telegraph' of 28 October last year reported :

No private school would get less under a Labor Government than the per capita grant it received now, Mr K. E. Beazley said last night.

He went on to say:

This will end the squalor of whispering campaigns in which one is accused of pandering to sectarian forces on the one hand or intending to suppress the parish school on the other.

Those statements were made by the present Minister for Education before he achieved that office. We can see the results of the Government's implementation of the recommendations of the Karmel Committee. In relation to independent schools the recommendations have been disregarded. Why has that happened? It cannot be a question of saving money. It would cost only about $2m or $3m to keep up the payment of grants for all children. It is not a question of saving money. It cannot be the question of equity which was so firmly put forward by those advocates on the other side. We have in the same Budget provision for free tertiary education for all people. There is provision for free tertiary education at those well endowed tertiary education institutions regardless of the financial capabilities of the students or the parents of the students attending those institutions. It cannot be equity. It cannot be a means test approach because we have heard that the means test is to be abolished for people over the age of 75 regardless of their wealth. Can it be that it is wanted by the independent schools? It is not wanted by the independent schools, neither the Catholic schools nor the Association of Independent Schools. We have all seen examples of the statements that they have made on this matter whether their schools come within category H or category A. So it cannot be that it is wanted by the independent schools. So that is not the reason.

Perhaps it is wanted by those elements within the Labor Party who wish to destroy independent school systems. I think there are very good arguments to support that contention. I believe that the allegations that the Minister is not in control can be firmly substantiated. He has virtually admitted as much by his own statements before the election and the actions that he has been forced to take since the election. He does not even know - and he admitted this in the House today - whether the Prime Minister has written to Professor Karmel in relation to that report. He does not even know and he has not even undertaken to find out.

Mr Beazley - I do not believe he has.

Mr MacKELLAR - Will you undertake to find out and report to the House because there are allegations that he has written.

Mr Beazley - You are alleging that we brought in legislation on this matter. No legislation on this matter has yet been brought in. It will be time enough for you to talk about the legislation when you have seen it.

Mr MacKELLAR - You are proposing to bring in legislation on this?

MiBeazley- That is right.

Mr MacKELLAR - You have made a decision to bring in legislation on this?

Mr Beazley - Yes.

Mr Wentworth - He has announced a decision.

Mr Beazley - Let me say that Caucus controls

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!I do not think the debate on this matter is assisted by interjections and speeches that are being made by honourable members seated around the House. I suggest that we might continue this debate with those honourable members who are called to speak being the only ones speaking on the subject.

Mr MacKELLAR - The Minister for Education has to live with his conscience. He knows the statements he has made. He knows his own opinions. He has to live with his own conscience and I wish him well with it. I am concerned about that significant proportion of Australian children who have been deprived of their right to educational assistance by this Commonwealth Government. They have been deprived of their right capricously with no basis in fact and no basis in logical argument.

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