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Education and the rich shall inherit earth



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10

E D U C A T I O N : AND THE RICH SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH

■ADDRESS BY MR. E.G. WEITLAM. Q'C, MP, TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES S T U D E N T S * 1 UNION, SYDNEY, FRIDAY 3 . MARCH 1972

The use we make of our lives and the contribution

we make to the life of our nation is governed

increasingly by e d u c a t i o n . Yet it is in education that

we expose our children to inequality in its grossest

.form. The quality of the education a child receives is

determined not by his own capacity to learn but by his

family's capacity to earn. Only 25$ of the students

at government schools and 52$ at Catholic schools,

reach the final year, of secondary education whereas

at other non-government schools . 82$ do so. Only

of the students at government schools and 7$ at

Catholic schools qualify for Commonwealth Secondary."

Scholarships whereas at other non-government schools I $ J2S$ do so. Students at government schools and

Catholic schools are not less able than those at other

non-government schools but at each stage of the

education system they are handicapped by less adequate

equipment and accommodation a n d , above all, insufficient

- 2-

P R E - S C H O O L E D U C A T I O N · ·

T h e A u s t r a l i a n C o u n c i l f o r E d u c a t i o n a l R e s e a r c h

r e v e a l e d r e c e n t l y t h a t i n M e l b o u r n e 9 o u t o f e v e r y 1 0

s t u d e n t s a t n o n - g o v e r n m e n t s c h o o l s o t h e r t h a n C a t h o l i c ,

s c h o o l s h a d h a d t h e b e n e f i t o f a p r e - s c h o o l e d u c a t i o n .

w h e r e a s a t g o v e r n m e n t s c h o o l s a n d C a t h o l i c s c h o o l s

o n l y 6 . "out o f e v e r y 1 0 s t u d e n t s h a d b e e n a s f o r t u n a t e .

N o r i s t h i s t h e o n l y w a y i n w h i c h o u r c h i l d r e n a r e

d i v i d e d a t t h i s c r u c i a l s t a g e o f t h e i r d e v e l o p m e n t .

I n C a n b e r r a t h e C o m m o n w e a l t h p r o v i d e s p l a c e s i n p r e ­

s c h o o l c e n t r e s f o r a l l c h i l d r e n w h e r e a s t h e r e a r e p l a c e s

f o r o n l y 2 7 . 0 $ i n V i c t o r i a , 1 5 . 0 $ i n S o u t h A u s t r a l i a , .

1 4 . 0 $ i n T a s m a n i a , 1 0 . 0 $ i n W e s t e r n A u s t r a l i a , 7 . 0 $ '

i n Q u e e n s l a n d a n d 5 . 0 $ i n N e w S o u t h W a l e s . A l l p r e - s c h o o l

t e a c h e r s i n C a n b e r r a a r e p r o f e s s i o n a l l y q u a l i f i e d

f o r t h e i r d u t i e s w h e r e a s i n t h e S t a t e s t h e n u m b e r .

p r o f e s s i o n a l l y q u a l i f i e d v a r i e s f r o m 3 o u t o f e v e r y 1 0

i n T a s m a n i a t o 9 o u t o f e v e r y 1 0 i n N e w S o u t h W a l e s .

P r e - s c h o o l e d u c a t i o n i s v i r t u a l l y f r e e i n C a n b e r r a , b u t

i n t h e S t a t e s p a r e n t s m u s t m e e t u p t o h a l f t h e c o s t , o f ·

b u i l d i n g , e q u i p p i n g a n d m a i n t a i n i n g p r e - s c h o o l c e n t r e s

t h e m s e l v e s . A c c o r d i n g t o P r o f e s s o r G o l d m a n o f L a t r o b e '

U n i v e r s i t y , i t w o u l d c o s t t h e C o m m o n w e a l t h n o m o r e

t h a n $ 4 0 m i l l i o n t o p r o v i d e a l l c h i l d r e n w i t h a · · ·

p r e - s c h o o l e d u c a t i o n a s g o o d a s i t p r o v i d e s at. . p r e s - n t .

f o r C a n b e r r a ' s c h i l d r e n a l o n e . I t w o u l d c o s t n o m o r e

t h a n $ 2 0 m i l l i o n t o p r o v i d e p r e - s c h o o l e d u c a t i o n i n

t h e i n n e r s u b u r b a n a r e a s w h e r e t h e n e e d f o r i t i s m o s t ' .

a c c u t e .

- ·3 -

P r i m e M i n i s t e r G o r t o n p r o m i s e d i n h i s 1 9 7 0 S e n a t e

C a m p a i g n O p e n i n g S p e e c h t h a t h i s g o v e r n m e n t w o u l d

h e l p t h e S t a t e s e s t a b l i s h k i n d e r g o r t o n s b u t t h i s i s

o n e o f . t h e m a n y l i b e r a l c o m m i t m e n t s w h i c h h a v e b e e n

i g n o r e d b y M r . M c M a h o n . . ■

S C H O O L S

I n p r i m a r y s c h o o l s t h e n u m b e r o f s t u d e n t s f o r e v e r y

t e a c h e r v a r i e s f o r g o v e r n m e n t s c h o o l s f r o m 2l i n

V i c t o r i a t o 3 2 i n W e s t e r n A u s t r a l i a , f o r C a t h o l i c

s c h o o l s f r o m 3 2 i n S o u t h A u s t r a l i a t o 3 7 i n V i c t o r i a

a n d f o r o t h e r n o n - g o v e r n m e n t s c h o o l s f r o m 1 7 i n T a s m a n i a

t o 2 2 i n Q u e e n s l a n d . I n s e c o n d a r y s c h o o l s i t v a r i e s

f o r g o v e r n m e n t s c h o o l s f r o m 16 in Tasmania to 19 in

Q u e e n s l a n d , for Catholic schools from 20 in Tasmania

to 24 in Victoria and for other non-government schools

from 14 in New South Wales to 19 in Q u e e n s l a n d . In : ■

general the most favourable staff-student ratio in

Catholic schools is comparable with the least favourable

ratio in government s c h o o l s . The most favourable ratio

in government schools is comparable with the least

favourable ratio in other non-government schools.

The Minister for Education and Science may doubt the

importance of class sizes as a factor in the quality

of education but there is no sign.of his reservations

in the staffing schedules of the highly privileged

schools to which he and his colleagues send their

c h i l d r e n .

TERTIARY EDUCATION . . . . .

Universities refused admission last year to 31$ .

of the qualified applicants in New South Wales, 20$

of the applicants in Victoria and 1 1$ in South. Australia

Eighty-six university departments were last year

obliged to impose entry q u o t a s . Only 1 student in .

every 3 at universities and 1 in every 10 at colleges,

of advanced education receives assistance from the

C o m m o n w e a l t h . Only 1 applicant in every 5 for . .

Commonwealth University Scholarships and only 1 .

applicant in every 20 for Commonwealth Advanced

Education Scholarships is successful. The fees

charged by this university have more than doubled since

1957 in the case of Engineering and Science and in the

case of Commerce they are greater by 4i t i m e s . As a

r e s u l t , places other than those occupied by Commonwealth

scholars are occupied not by the students best equipped

to take advantage of them but by those whose parents .

can afford the fees. It would cost the Commonwealth

no more than Si 6.5 million to abolish fees at both

universities and colleges of advanced education, and

thus provide access to tertiary education on the basis

of merit· and not of m o n e y . . ' ' ·

’ J'

T A X C O N C E S S I O N S . . . ; . ; . , .

' The M c M a h o n g o v e r n m e n t d e c i d e d in its 1971 B u d g e t

to increase, by $ 1 0 0 the m a x i m u m e x p e n d i t u r e o n e d u c a t i o n

d e d u c t i b l e f ro m i n c o m e for t a x a t i o n p u r p o s e s . T hi s 7/as

a c o n c e s s i o n a d v a n t a g e o u s only to.the w e a l t h i e s t m e m b e r s

of our c o m m u n i t y . It p e r p e t r a t e d and e x t e n d e d the

s y s t e m of tax d e d u c t i o n u n d e r which, a m a n on S 3 0 0 0 a

y e a r must s pe nd $4 to get b a c k Si w h e r e a s a m a n on .

$ 3 0 , 0 0 0 a ' y e a r r e c e i v e s b ac k $2 for e v e r y $3 h e . s p e n d s .

E v e n b efo r e this i n c r e a s e taxpayers, e a r n i n g annually.

$ 5 0 0 0 s aved on an a v e r a g e $36 w h e r e a s t h e .a v e r a g e , . :

s a v i n g for those e a r n i n g $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 was $93. Γ ; can i ma g i n e

no b e t t e r i l l u s t r a t i o n of the a t t i t u d e of the g o v e r n m e n t

or of the s y m p o s i u m ' s p r o p o s i t i o n that "the rich, shall

i n he r it the e a r t h " . . . . .

.NATION-WIDE SURVEY . . .

. In March 1969 the 6 State Ministers for . .

..Education and the Commonwealth Minister for E due at bn · . '

and Science agreed to conduct a nationwide survey of

educational needs. Mr. Gorton undertook.in his. 1 969

election policy speech that : . " ■

"When the survey is completed the States and . ' . ourselves will discuss the assistance we · = . ·

should each provide to promote the further . . : '

. . development. of education in all schools". . . . . ' ; '

. . ' -6­

In May 1970 the Ministers received their r e p o r t . ,

on the survey showing that between 1971 and 1975

the States would need for schools $1,145 million

more than the resources- then available to them ■ . .

would provide, and subsequently it was established

that at least an extra $264 million would be needed

for non-government schools. .

Sir Henry Eolte and Sir Robert Askin have still

not made public the sections of the survey dealing..

with Victoria and New South Wales. Mr. Fraser has

endeavoured at every opportunity to throw doubt-on .

the validity of the survey. He now claims that :

"With the passage of time the information is ' losing its." relevance to the present situation". :

Mr. Gorton's promise of joint Commonwealth-State action

like his promise to establish kindergortons has been

discarded by Mr. McMahon. Secrecy, obstruction and . .

abdication of election undertakings- characterise-the .

Liberal approach to" schools, . .

LABOR'S POLICY " ' ' - "

■ Throughout the 1 960' s the Commonwealth has - . · .

assisted existing universities and promoted new ones .

through the Universities Commission. The Commonwealth

is now. doing the same for colleges of advanced education

through.a new Commission on Advanced Education. , The

A'.L.F.· .believes that the Commonwealth's assistance for

pre-schools .and schools can best, be provided through "a .

Pre-school Commission -nd a Schools. Commission. - -

. · ; ■ ■ -7 - . . - ■ ;

' A S c h o o l s . C o m m i s s i o n . ' w o u l d h a v e t h e f u n c t i o n of

a s s e s s i n g n e e d s r a t h e r t h a n t e s t i n g m e a n s . . I t w o u l d

r e c o m m e n d p r i o r i t y i n C o m m o n w e a l t h g r a n t s f o r t h o s e .·

s c h o o l s a n d t h e s e a r e a s w h i c h ' a r e s t i l l d e n i e d e n o u g h

.q u a l i f i e d . s t a f f , e n o u g h e q u i p m e n t a n d e n o u g h .

a c c o m m o d a t i o n f o r a p r o p e r e d u c a t i o n . . I t w o u l d , i n c l u d e

r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of ; t h e S t a t e d e p a r t m e n t s , t h e F e d e r a l

C a t h o l i c . S c h o o l s C o m m i t t e e , the u n i v e r s i t i e s and the

t e a c h i n g p r ofession. It w ould make its r e p o r t s public,

and it w o u l d fol low m a t t e r s through. . . .

.·'■ A L a b o r g o v e r n m e n t w ould assum e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y

for c o - o r d i n a t i n g a n d . f i n a n c i n g free of f e e s - a l l forms

of t e r i t i a r y educati on , i n c l u d i n g p o s t - g r a d u a t e study

and. res ea rc h, col l e g e s of a d v a n c e d e d u c a t i o n and. the

e d u c a t i o n of tea ch ers ( p referably in a u t o n o m o u s . ; .

i n s t i t u t i o n s ) on c o n d i t i o n that the a d d i t i o n a l funds

thus r e l e a s e d to the S t a t e s . w e r e spent in other areas .

of ed ucation. The funds r e l e a s e d i n i t i a l l y in this

way w o u l d be c o m p a r a b l e to the r e q u i r e m e n t s of the „ .

St at es as f o r e s e e n in the n a t i o n w i d e s urvey report,, ;

and p e n d i n g rec eipt of the f i'rst 'recommendations." of ■ '

the. S c h o o l s . Com mission, a' L a b o r g o v e r n m e n t would: assist

both, g o v e r n m e n t and n o n - g o v e r h m e n t scho ols on the .·. .

basis of" that report. " " ..... ' · . . ■ '

. . - 8- ■ ■ ' . . . ·.

T h e A . L . P . s e e k ? f o r a l l A u s t r a l i a n c h i l d r e n ..

a n e q u a l o p p o r t u n i t y i n l i f e a n d a n o p p o r t u n i t y i n .

l i f e a s g o o d a s i s e n j o y e d b y - c h i l d r e n i n c o m p a r a b l e

c o u n t r i e s . W e b e l i e v e t h e C o m m o n w e a l t h s h o u l d n o w .

s e e t h a t p r e - s c h o o l , p r i m a r y , s e c o n d a r y a n d t e r t i a r y

e d u c a t i o n o f a n a g r e e d s t a n d a r d i s p r o v i d e d f u r e v e r y

y o u n g A u s t r a l i a n i r r e s p e c t i v e o f t h e i n c o m e - h i s f a m i l y

r e c e i v e s , t h e c h u r c h t h e y a t t e n d o r . t h e a r e a i n w h i c h

t h e y 1 i v e . . W e r e j e c t i n i t s e n t i r e t y t h e L i b e r a l :

a p p r o a c h t o e d u c a t i o n a n d i t s c o r o l l a r y t h a t " t h e

r i c h s h a l l i n h e r i t t h e e a r t h " . . .