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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Education and Science) - I would agree that the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) has put his finger on a problem in this area. As he mentioned, I visited the area recently and my information was that even taking all adults into account the average age of the population was 8 years. I cannot deal with the various matters such as the lack of a police station or a baby minding centre. I know the honourable member realises that these are essentially matters for the State Government. But the question of schools is one in which I have some interest. The Tregear school that I inspected is a new school catering for kindergarten, infant and secondary pupils. It is a first rate structure and a first rate school. It is quite impressive in its setting and a credit to the State Government which has erected it. I have discussed the matter with Mr Southee in the area.

First of all I would like to say that it would be unfair to suggest that very great efforts are not being made by the State Government to cope with these problems, many of which could not have been foreseen some years ago. For example, in 1960, taking the period since Captain Cook landed, in New South Wales there were about 166 secondary high schools. In the next 9 years 123 were erected. It is true that there are still shortages but the immense effort that has been made to cope with these problems is evident. I do not think that the problem can be solved by just dealing with one area at a time. It is an Australia-wide problem and the honourable member will probably be aware that a survey is being conducted of the needs both in secondary and primary education as well as teacher training for the next 5 years. There has been one progress report and I am meeting with the State Ministers next Monday to discuss further this report and I am meeting with the State Ministers including New South Wales, for the next 5 years. I think it is necessary to take the matter on a complete basis rather than on individual electorates and this is the way in which we are approaching it.

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