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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 2127


The PRESIDENT -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-

The main purpose of the Bill before the Senate is to amend the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1972-73 to enable the Australian Government to assume full financial responsibility for advanced education from 1 January 1974. This is part of the Government's intention to assume financial responsibility for all tertiary education. The States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 3) 1973 was introduced into the Senate recently to implement this policy with regard to university education. The assumption of full financial responsibility for tertiary education includes the abolition of tuition fees at all tertiary institutions including colleges of advanced education. Already this year, grants have been made for financial assistance to students in need at colleges of advanced education and universities, and this legislation will enable the Government to step closer to its goal of promoting equality of educational opportunity for students intending to undergo tertiary education.

The Premiers of all the States have agreed to the major policy change which is incorporated in this BUI. In addition, the Bill provides for a number of other matters which are being implemented as a result of Government decisions. There is provision for supplementary grants to colleges to meet the increased costs of academic salaries resulting from the acceptance by the Government of the recommendations of the report by Mr Justice Campbell, and to meet the cost of increased salaries and wages to college staff following the national wage case decision of May 1973. The Bill enables payment of grants in respect of full-time university students who are resident in a hall of residence at a college of advanced education. In accordance with the Government's plans the Bill provides for grants for special courses in dental therapy, social work and physical education at various colleges of advanced education.

The main amendments to the Act have been to sections 5 and 6, dealing with recurrent and capital expenditure. It is no longer necessary to include provision for State contributions for 1 974 and 1975 in section 5. Under section 6 of the principal Act capital projects in colleges are funded in equal proportions by the States and the Australian Government over the whole triennium. Under the new matching arrangements the States have agreed to provide one third of their share of capital expenditure for the 1 973-75 triennium. Under section 8 of the principal Act colleges are provided with per capita grants for college students living in, collegiate accommodation. This amendment provides for the allowance to be paid in respect of university students living in college of advanced education residences; an amendment has been included in the recently introduced States Grants (Universities) Bill to provide for advanced education students in university residences.

With the acceptance by the Australian Government of the full responsibility for funding tertiary education from 1 January 1974 the entire cost of construction of a student residence in a country area may be borne by this Government, and in the case of affiliated colleges this Government will now meet 75 per cent of the cost of construction leaving as before, only 25 per cent to be found by the college authority. In addition, where the building of student residences may be funded in part by a repayable loan, this Government is prepared to contribute $2,500 in respect of each place provided so that students may have the benefit of a good standard of accommodation at a reasonable weekly rental.

In accordance with the Government's decisions other grants have been provided. Honourable senators will recall that early in the life of this Government substantial assistance was provided for the extension of training facilities for dental therapists. In some States, the new training schemes are being conducted by the Department of Health. In Western Australia, however, the Western Australian Institute of Technology accepted additional students into its dental therapy course from the beginning of 1973, and provision has been made for $248,000 to be paid for their training. The Government has also agreed to provide $800,000 for courses in social work and physical education at the Institutes of Technology at Preston and Footscray in Victoria.

Apart from providing for Government initiatives in the fields of social work, physical education and dental therapy the basic programs recommended by the Australian Commission on Advanced Education in its third report and the teacher education report remain unchanged. The additional cost to the Australian Government for the 1973-75 triennium resulting from salary increases in the colleges and the assumption of full financial responsibility for the colleges, including the abolition of tuition fees, will be approximately $32 8m. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Rae) adjourned.







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