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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2940

Senator MACKLIN(4.49) — The Australian Democrats will not support the amendments moved by the Opposition, not because we do believe that non- government schools should not be on the Curriculum Development Council. Indeed, I imagine that they would have to be on the Council and that one of those selected by the Minister or chosen from the Australian Education Council would undoubtedly be from the non-government sector since the non-government sector at the school level has a very large input to curriculum development in Australia.

Senator Peter Baume —How can you be sure?

Senator MACKLIN —Perhaps I may develop my argument. The concern that we have is that a body such as the Curriculum Development Council ought to have people on it who are not representative of interests, but who are experts in their own right in relation to the task that is set. It would be necessary for the Council to have an input from a representative of the non-government schools to cover the applicability of the curriculum to that particular sector. While accepting that an expert from the non-government school sector would be required and would be necessary for the smooth functioning of the Council, we do not believe that that person ought to be there to represent the interests of any particular group . Rather, that person ought to represent the interests of all Australian pupils in terms of the expertise that the person can give.

The amendment is framed quite specifically to suggest that one member should be there to represent certain interests as though it is a combatant operation. We do not see it as a combatant operation. I have never accepted that the Schools Commission ought to be established in the way that it is, but the politics of it are that it is established in that way. Nevertheless, there could be some argument mounted that the Schools Commission is dealing with the allocation of funds and, therefore, may be much more politically sensitive. The Curriculum Development Council, on the other hand, is concerned with the development of the best type of curriculum materials and a variety of other items which are included in the functions contained within the clause 14K of the Commonwealth Schools Commission Amendment Bill.

It is for those reasons, not because we do not believe that people from government schools and non-government schools should be on the Council-I am quite sure that they will be there-that we oppose the amendments. We do not believe that that body will be enhanced by having interests represented in such a way that people will feel that they must be combatant in terms of those interests rather than expert in terms of curriculum.