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Thursday, 11 November 1976


Mr Peter Johnson (BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND) -I rise to support the 8 Bills that the Government has introduced and to oppose the amendments that have been moved on behalf of the Opposition. I am surprised that the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) speaks this way in the debate this afternoon, because as a Minister in the previous Government he was part of the team which considered the triennial report of the education commissions and reduced the funds for 1976 by $ 105m compared with 1975. I say by way of example that the Schools Commission in its report sought approximately $720m for 1975 but received $498m in 1 975 under a Labor Government- a reduction of $222m

Let me bring the debate back to reality. When we arrived in Government on 1 4 December 1 975 education was another area where a disaster had occurred. There were major problems in the education area. The Labor mess of broken promises and deceit which had occurred with the cutting out of triennial funding and the reduction of moneys which I have just mentioned meant that what we had to do firstly was to reintroduce the triennial funding program. The new form of triennial funding program will be on a rolling basis. As each year is completed plans for the remaining years of the triennium will be reviewed and updated and initial proposals made for a new third year. This will include a provision for long term reviews. Each of the commissions was asked to submit detailed programs after the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) made public on 20 May 1976 that what was needed was a complete review of the requirements of each of the commissions. There needed to be detailed recommendations for the first year and a plan proposed for the second and third years. These were forthcoming. From that the guidelines which the Minister laid down provided a total expenditure of the programs administered by the education commissions of some $ 1,537m in the 1977 calendar year. Let me give the amount allocated for each commission in 1977 as compared with 1976. The amount allocated for the Universities Commission in 1976 was $542m. This will increase to $555m in 1977. The Commission on Advanced Education received $3 85m in 1976 and will receive $494m in 1977. The Technical and Further Education Commission received $65m in 1976 and will receive $70m in 1977. The Schools Commission in 1976 received $498m and in 1 977 will receive $508m. The total in 1976 was $ 1,490m. In 1977 it will be $ 1,537m. This represents an increase of $47m or 3.2 per cent in real terms in 1977. The cash flow in 1976-77 will be $ 1,569m which represents an increase of 4.2 per cent.

I believe our Government has demonstrated a clear degree of concern for the people and the future of Australia. The children are the most important part of our heritage. It is part of the Government's thoughts that it ensures the future of those children and ensures that those children will be looked after and educated in a way which will solve the problems that would have occurred under the previous administration. I turn now to the guidelines which were laid down within the financial limits referred to. The Government asked the Schools Commission to base its recommendations on the maintenance of existing standards in government and non-government schools. In drawing up the recommendations for the 1977 expenditure provision was made for the continuation of special purpose programs such as those for handicapped children, migrants and disadvantaged schools. This is allied with a further substantial increase of SO per cent in the allocation of moneys to handicapped children which was brought down with the Budget and the real family allowance increase which was effective from the middle of June. The assistance which is now rendered directly in money terms to each individual family in this country is quite substantial. After the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education, the Technical and Further Education Commission and the Schools Commission were asked to report they went to work and came up with a substantive program for spending in the 1976-77 financial year. The programs in 1977 mean an increase of some $47m in real terms over 1976. The commissions' reports in more specific detail show that along with the money allocated for this financial year the commission will convey to the authorities and institutions further details of procedures agreed to by this Government. Briefly, these include the adjustments of agreed cost increases which will be made each quarter following certification from each commission of the supplementation required to maintain real levels of expenditure approved for the 1977 program. Account will be taken of offsetting savings including any from favourable building tenders. Movements in costs will be measured against indexation of wages and salary determinations and other recurrent building costs. Through this process the Minister will be able to approve programs to supplement grants to meet unfavourable cost increases. It effectively means that there will be a real increase of some 2 per cent over the second and third years. The education facilities of universities and colleges of advanced education can look forward to the future with a vast amount of confidence.

The Government has also accepted the financial recommendations of the Universities Commission for 1977. The total program amounts to $56 1.6m. In Queensland we have 3 magnificent universities- the Queensland University, the Griffith University, which is the new university, and the James Cook University. The total amount of moneys allocated this year will be to Queensland University $48.732m, to the James Cook University $9.3 98m and to the Griffith University $6.45 lm. The total amount of money allocated to Queensland universities is now $64.5 81m. This shows the genuine concern of this Government.

Colleges of advanced education are also an area of great importance to this Government. The advanced education field is ever increasing because of the type of information which is now current and which needs to be disseminated to the people of Australia through the colleges of advanced education. The allocations in real terms by the Commission on Advanced Education covers some $404m at the 1975 cost levels. In that area, in Queensland again, there will be a total expenditure of $5 1.9m. The expenditure on the recurrent program will be $42m and the expenditure on the capital program will be $9.9m. Again, these sums represent a substantial increase in the amount allocated for expenditure in an extremely important area.

I turn to deal with the technical and further education field. The Government's 1977 expenditure program on this area- formulated upon the recommendations of the Technical and Further Education Commission- will amount to $73m at December 1975 cost levels. This amount is composed of $3 8.4m for recurrent expenditure and $34.6m for capital expenditure. These funds include an amount of $3m to be transferred from the Commission on Advanced Education to cover advanced education courses in technical and further education institutions. A significant proportion of the recurrent funds for 1 977 will go towards the continuation of specific projects commenced in earlier periods with Commonwealth assistance and to the establishment of new programs designed to improve the quality of teaching and other resources in this area. These special purpose programs include staff development schemes- including non-teaching staffimprovement of information systems and a group of other programs from which States are able to choose according to their priorities. The States must accept their degree of responsibility in this area. To that end, the total amount of money which is being allocated- again in Queensland- will mean that the total program of major projects in our capital areas will amount to $4.8m and for minor work and equipment, some $200,000. Expenditure in the total capital area will amount to almost $Sm. Expenditure on recurrent general purpose grants will amount to $2.2m. Together with special purpose grants, for staff development and data collection and processing, particular purpose grants, adult education grants and total recurrent grants, the total contribution will amount to some $8.9 1 m.

The schools area is one sector to which the Government has again given a major priority. The 1977 expenditure program for schools amounts to some $508m. Of this amount, $3 10.3m is for government schools, $ 173.4m for non-government schools and $24.2m is to be shared jointly between the government and nongovernment sectors. This is one area in which I believe it is extremely important that we have a continuation of communication between parents, teachers and local communities. It is a great delight for me to sit down with my children, listen to what they are learning about and to read them the stories which are coming from the education system. We are now providing a great deal of money for this system and looking to the future to produce young Australians who will be the fathers of our community in a very short period.

The Government has also accepted the financial recommendations of the Schools Commission for government schools in broad terms but has modified the recommended distribution between the States of capital grants. This applies particularly to Queensland. This modification was made after consideration of the basis of the recommendation and the contribution and relating this to the existing pattern of grants in 1976. The Government considered that in the light of 1976 allocations, the recommended total of general recurrent and capital grants in Queensland would make it too difficult for that State to implement its planned programs for the whole of the 1977 year. The modified distribution of grants decided upon by this Government results in a $ 1 .4m addition to Queensland 's allocation for general capital grants offset against slight reductions in the allocations to some 4 other States. In the government school sector in Queensland the total of general support will enable the implementation of a program amounting to some $17.4 15m. Migrant and multicultural education, which is a very important program in Queensland, will receive an allocation of $450,000. Disadvantaged school projects in Queensland- I have one school, in my electorate, the Petrie Terrace State School, which was declared a disadvantaged school only recently- will receive a total of $ 1.47m. Expenditure on the special education general support program will amount to $ 1.29m. Capital grants, general and specific purposes grants, will total $22.7m this year. The total program for this financial year amounts to $43.325m.

The non-government schools sector is strongly supported financially this year. There has been an increase in the size of the recommended general recurrent grant for the most needy primary schools from some $223 a pupil to $229 a pupil at average 1976 price levels. These schools cater for approximately 90 per cent of enrolments in the non-government primary school area. The Government also has accepted the Schools Commission recommendation that the level of grant per pupil for non-government schools be linked automatically in future years to the expenditure level per pupil in government schools. I think that this is a very important part of our total overall program. In level one schools, the 1976 allocation per pupil to primary schools was $76. In 1977, it will be $84. The allocations have been increased throughout the whole. 6 levels culminating in the allocation for level 6 being increased from $223 from 1976 to $229 for 1977, as I mentioned previously. In the secondary school area, the previous grant per child at level 6 was $355. That will rise to $367 in 1977. At level one, the allocation will rise from $ 1 1 3 in 1976 to $130 in 1977. The total non-government school program in Queensland will enable recurrent general support amounting to $22.2 18m. The allocation this year for migrant and multicultural education, disadvantaged school projects, special education general support projects and capital grants for general and specific purpose projects will total $26.434m. This is the sort of program for which I believe the Australian people elected the Government that we have. The children of Australia are our investment for the future. It is Australia's future. I support the Bills.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.







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