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Whitlam on education



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WHITLAM ON EDUCATION

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My great objective for Australian schools is that

every Australian boy and girl shall leave school with an equal

start in life.

That is the great test of any education.system. By

that test, education in Australia is an oustanding failure.

Spending on schools will be the fastest growing

sector of Labor Budgets.

It will be our No. 1 priority. ·

And we will get started on a new deal for State and

Catholic schools right away.

I shall write before Christmas to some leading

educationists, including representatives of the State and Catholic

systems, for urgent advice on how the Commonwealth's funds for

schools can best be spent to produce equality of opportunity.

I shall seek recommendations on what additional sums

are most urgently required to assist in meeting the requirements

of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities.

The Liberals, by contrast, plan to deal a shattering

blow to the ideal of equality in education.

They propose what Professor Goldman, Professor of

Education at La Trobe University, Melbourne, has described as a

"fraud" a fraud on State schools and a fraud on the overwhelming

majority of Catholic schools. ’

Under the Liberal proposals, nine of Australia's top

schools - the schools so very well represented by their old boys

in the Cabinet - would receive $9 million from the public purse!

The gravest defect in Australian education is its

inequality - its bias in favor of wealth. .

The question is not whether the non-government schools

should receive assistance. .

They should, and they will under a Labor Government.

But we cannot justify proposals based on the principle

that to him who hath even more shall be given.

That is why we propose to establish an Australian

Schools Commission.

We will expect the Commission to undertake the. task

of exposing inequalities, assessing needs and recommending ways of

meeting the needs and overcoming the inequalities.

2 .

We do not believe this can be done just by making

grants to schools on a per capita basis - at so much per head.

The problem is to assess needs, not just count heads.

We of the Labor Party want to give every Australian

child the opportunities for pre-school education at present available

only to children in Canberra.

Teachers are the nucleus, the very foundation of any

education system.

Under a Labor Government teacher trainees for both

government and non-government schools would receive their training

with allowances and without fees.

We will also abolish fees at the universities and

colleges of advanced education.

We believe that university places should be provided

wholly on the basis of merit.

The basic philosophy of the Australian Labor Party

is that it is the right of every child, whatever his parent's

income, creed or locality, to have the best education that he is

able to absorb.

Education is the community's best weapon for promoting

equality and social mobility.

k This weapon is not being properly used in Australia.

The Liberal proposals are designed to impede rather

than promote equality in education.

The 1970 Nationwide Survey of Educational Needs showed

that in the State school system alone there was a gap of

$1443 million over a five year period between needs and the finance

available. ' · '

they sound,

is this :

We have to start thinking in these terms, large as

The important thing to remember about education costs

Education on the cheap may save the community money

in the short term but our children will be paying for it for the

rest of their lives.