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Wednesday, 21 October 1964

Senator GORTON (VICTORIA) (Minister for Works) - I did notice the leading article in the " Australian " this morning. The article advanced at some length a lot of arguments against any form of assistance to private schools. The arguments in general were of the kind which we have heard far more intemperately expressed by the Opposition in this chamber and in the other place.

Senator Ormonde - Not only by the Opposition.

Senator GORTON - Yes. During the debate on assistance to provide science laboratories we heard quite violent attacks on the policy in this chamber particularly from Senator Hendrickson and Senator Cavanagh.

Senator Hendrickson - Yes.

Senator GORTON - That is so. This is the same type of argument which we reject. But in some respects, the leading article to which the honorable senator has referred, went further than the Opposition or the statements we have heard from the Australian Labour Party. The newspaper made the claim that 25 per cent, of Australian children attend Roman Catholic schools. I believe this claim to be factually and statistically untrue. The article went further still and said that all these children were receiving sub-standard education at these schools. There is no doubt whatever that this claim is completely untrue. During discussions on providing assistance to schools through the Standards Committee, I have come into contact with secondary schools of all kinds including Roman Catholic secondary schools, and there is no question but that some Roman Catholic secondary schools are excellent. Some are thoroughly up to average and some are capable of improvement. That can be said also of all other independent secondary schools including State grant independent secondary schools. This is true of all schools. A statement has been made that it is not but, if it were not true and if, in fact, 25 per cent, of Australian children were receiving sub-standard education, it seems to me that the case for providing improvements to that education would be unanswerable unless we, as a country, want to agree to 25 per cent, of the population entering adulthood without proper facilities for their education. I can say that the Government rejects 'he arguments advanced in the leading article and by the Opposition, and proposes to continue with its programme of assistance unless it finds itself frustrated by the Opposition when it endeavours to do so in the future.

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