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Friday, 10 November 2000
Page: 19718

Senator CARR (2:24 PM) —Frankly, I am astounded at the government's response to our propositions here. Minister, you were minister for schools for some time, and you would have received, directly, deputations from all the different sectors in education. Minister, don't you recall those non-government school bodies coming in and talking to you about the plight of the disabled in the schools of Australia? Haven't you heard from the Catholic Education Commission on this issue? Haven't you understood exactly why—

Senator Ellison —That is why you've got $527.

Senator CARR —No. Minister, what we have here is simply this: you have got your priorities dead wrong. Here we have the case of Geelong Grammar. It has two magnificent ovals, an all-weather synthetic hockey field, tennis courts, netball and basketball courts, and squash courts; a new recreation centre, featuring a 25-metre indoor swimming pool—eight lanes to FINA standards—a separate diving pool, a fully equipped gymnasium with a weights room and an aerobic studio. Are you really saying that schools like Trinity Grammar in New South Wales can receive an extra $3.1 million per year, every year? Here we have Newington College in New South Wales, $1.8 million; King's School in New South Wales, $1.5 million; Wesley College, $3.9 million; Haileybury College in Victoria, $2.9 million; Ivanhoe Grammar, $2.4 million; Geelong Coll-ege, $2.3 million; Geelong Grammar, $1.7 million; Mentone Grammar in Victoria, $1.6 million; Scotch College, $1.8 million; and St Peter's in South Australia, $1.5 million. You are saying that those schools are in greater need than are the kids in wheelchairs in this country, Minister. That is the problem. That essentially is the problem. You have not understood that basic fact. When we are talking about needs, you have got it all wrong. You cannot possibly, in all seriousness, argue that the schools such as I have named are in greater need than the kids in wheelchairs. Minister, frankly, I am appalled that you should try to present to this Senate a proposition like this.

What we are saying is simple—and obviously you have not understood it, so I will need to repeat it to you. We are saying to you that the 61 richest schools in this country ought to be able to do with less. We are saying that the $145 million that is going to those elite schools ought to be spent on students with disabilities in both the government and the non-govern-ment sector. We say that the kids in wheelchairs are worth a lot more than you obviously are prepared to give them. We are saying that 85,000 students with disabilities in government schools ought to receive four times the amount of money. Under this proposal, they can. They ought to be able to receive four times the amount of money that you are offering them. We are saying that the 18,000 students with disabilities in the non-government sector, which includes 13,000 in Catholic schools, ought to be able to double the amount of money you are prepared to offer them. The sum of $145 million is far too much to give to the elite category 1 schools—and that is what you are doing. Minister, I would ask you to think again because, frankly, you have missed the plot entirely here. You cannot possibly claim in all seriousness that, as a social justice measure, giving money to millionaires at these schools is what should be the priority for government. You are clearly wrong.