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Mr Whitlam has written to principals of some schools

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PRESS STATEMENT 26 November 1972


Mr Whit lam has written to_____ Principals of some schools seeking to deny the facts of Labor's record in relation to State aid. The letter is a typical Whitlam document of evasion and half truth. .

It is no wonder that Mr Whitlam went out of his way on several occasions to avoid a national education debate with me on the subject of the Government's education policies. Indeed, such a debate was at one time organised, until Mr Whitlam put pressure on organisers in his own electorate to have it restricted to Werriwa electoral matters or Werriwa candidates.

The letter he has sent to some principals refers to three or four matters. It refers to a Queensland resolution that indicated the Labor Party intention to phase out State aid.

Mr Whitlam and I agree that the Queensland resolution was not passed. What Mr Whitlam seeks to hide is the fact that it was dismissed on the grounds that it was covered under existing ALP policy headed 'Australian Schools Commission'. In other words, there was no need to pass it because in terms of their own document,

it was already policy.

Mr Whitlam has often asserted that representatives of independent school authorities would take their places on the proposed schools commission and I have pointed to the falsity of that claim.

Mr Whitlam says that Labor's Federal Conference rejected the policy section to give independent school authorities that representation because it was too complex and prolix. The rejected section read:

'The schools commission should include representatives .of education departments, non-Government education authorities, teacher education authorities and faculties, teachers' and parents' organisations and the community.'

I would have thought that was a fairly simple statement of principle.ยท It was rejected.

Mr Whitlam said that my document alleges that the Labor Party must be opposed to aid to non-Government schools because two Labor Senators dissented from a Senate Committee recommendation concerning teachers colleges.

Mr Whitlam went further than I did when he concluded that the two Senators' opposition represented total ALP opposition. I am pleased he has drawn that logical conclusion. All I said was that the words of Senators Milliner and McClelland concerning

independent teachers colleges - words like 'religious indoctrination' and ^unjustifiable' and 'unconstitutional' state aid - spoke for themselves. '

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The two Senators in question simply reflect an attitude within the ALP of opposition to state aid.

Mr Whitlam concludes by trying to explain a way a Labor amendment in the Senate of 23 March this year which, if successful, would have defeated legislation to increase per capita grants to independent schools. His explanation is false.

The Labor Senators did vote . against the additional grants to independent schools and those who know Senator Murphy can only assume that he had drafted the amendment in those terms deliberately. Whatever he might now say he is known as an opponent of State aid.

There was an occasion when I sought a debate on the subject with Senator Murphy in Sydney. He also avoided that debate. Why does the Labor Party have to be so secret?

Mr Whitlam continues to assert that the ALP has never voted against any proposal to assist non-Gove rriment schools. Apart from the occasion I mentioned on which all Labor Senators present voted against such a proposal, only two months ago the ALP moved . an amendment in the House of Representatives which, if successful, would have ended the present programme of assistance to independent schools at the end of next year. This represents a repudiation of an undertaking Mr Whitlam. gave to a Catholic gathering as recently as 20 June when he said that all existing forms of State aid would be continued-by.Labor. And he gave that undertaking more than a month after the Prime Minister had announced the new programmes.

Mr Whitlam*s letter. I am sure, will deceive no one. The explanations of four points out of more than a dozen are inadequate and as misleading as Mr Whitlam can so effectively be.

If anyone wants the full and proper documentation of Labor’s misdeeds documented from their own statements and official sources, they can apply to me or to the Liberal Party. . '