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Tuesday, 12 October 1971
Page: 2214

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) - I wish to speak briefly on the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and then to touch very briefly on an education question. In the early part of this debate officers from the CSIRO were in the gallery. I do not know whether they have given up in despair that nothing will be said about the CSIRO, but 1 want to say one thing; I want to comment on the set-up of the Ministry. The CSIRO is conducting research into a very large number of industrial questions, but they relate mainly to the agricultural and primary section of industry. The CSIRO derives its funds from the Commonwealth Government and from private industry, but private industry which contributes funds to the CSIRO is overwhelmingly agricultural. The agricultural and pastoral sectors of industry have put most into the CSIRO, and the amount received from secondary industry has been disappointing.

The CSIRO has carried out research into a great diversity of subjects, such as weather, wildlife, soil science, agronomy, rain studies, air pollution - you name it. There has been a tremendous range of scientific studies. Perhaps at one stage some of these matters were not thought to have as direct a bearing on our national life as they are beginning to have. For instance, studies of wildlife are beginning to be more revealing at this stage of history than perhaps they were earlier. But I do not believe that the CSIRO and government activity in science should any longer be attached to the portfolio of Education and Science. I do not believe that we should have a portfolio of Education and Science. 1 believe that we ought to have separate portfolios for education on the one hand and science and technology on the other. I believe that we will increase the scientific activities of the Commonwealth Government or of the CSIRO in the fields of secondary industry if we use the expression 'science and technology' as is done in the United Kingdom.

It is very clear that the education portfolio is becoming increasingly onerous as Commonwealth activities in education increase. It would be valid to have a Minister for Education to handle the university activities of the Commonwealth Government alone. This is apart from the increasing Commonwealth intervention into the field of secondary education, both public and church. I think that the time is overdue when, if science is to get the attention it deserves, it should come under a separate portfolio and should be allied with technology. I believe that this is a must. This development will take place in the future. I think it would be good to make the decision very soon. Having a separate portfolio for science and technology would show that the Commonwealth does not regard the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as an adjunct to something else, as it has been for so long. It was attached to the Prime Minister's Department and is now attached to the portfolio of education.

The honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) in the course of his address referred to religious instruction in State schools as it existed in Victoria, paradoxically as a result of the intervention of Archbishop Mannix who at one stage said that Catholics should not be called on to pay taxes for Protestant education and got scriptural education knocked out of Victorian State schools and then, rather illogically, turned round and asked for assistance for Catholic schools. He provoked the logical retort that if Catholics should not pay taxes for Protestant education Protestants should not pay taxes for Catholic education. He had asked for it more or less, and he got it. He bedevilled the whole question of state aid for another 30 or 40 years as a result of that intervention. But the banning of scriptural education in Victorian schools does not have a parallel in every State. In my teaching days I used to have to teach a course that was called scripture, with frightful warnings that I must not enter the field of dogmatic and polemical theology, according to the Education Act of Western Australia. I had no desire nor any qualifications to enter the field of dogmatic or polemical theology, but we used to teach a set course of scripture lessons.

What took place in Victoria as a result of certain accidents back in 1913 does not have a parallel in every State of the Commonwealth. The church schools are indeed church schools. We hear this euphemism of independent schools' all the time. It is a misnomer. Huntingtower is a Christian Science school. The Friends School is a Quaker school. Carey in Melbourne is a Baptist school. Any 'independent' school one can name is attached to some church. As far as Catholic schools are concerned their undoubted intention is the promulgation of the Catholic faith. It seems to me that realistically, if the increasing burden of education is to be carried by such private bodies they will have to come to accept what was once offered, I understand, by a former director of education in Western Australia. He said: 'If you cannot carry the burden of teaching because you no longer have enough people in the orders to staff the schools, why not assume control of certain State schools, which we will allow you to do? We will appoint only Catholic teachers from the State schools service to those staffs additional to whatever from your orders you are prepared to put there.' I understand that this was rejected by the Church in that State but that the German Pallottine order accepted it because it had parallels with their experience in Germany.

A Catholic priest in my own electorate who is a Yugoslav and who has recently been back to Communist Yugoslavia says that Tito, to unify his country against Russia in case of a Russian attack, has arrived at much the same solution. He said to the Jesuits, to the De la Salle order or to the Marist Brothers, whichever order it was: 'Here is a state school. You staff it. You will be paid by the state. Those people who want their children to have a religious education may send their children to this school.' This seems to me to meet every requirement of those who are primarily concerned about the Church teaching a faith but not primarily concerned perhaps about its independently owning property.

It seems to me that if the church has difficulty - and I am quite concerned that people should have freedom to give their children the education which they want to give them - one of the solutions may well be that those Catholics who are part of the State school teaching staff should be free to teach in church schools. The Commonwealth cannot arrange that in the States but it could make that arrangement in the Northern Territory. If it set up as it should in the Australian Capital Territory an independent education authority, it could make such an arrangement in the Australian Capital Territory. I do not know whether such a process would be objected to today as it was some years ago. I doubt whether it would be in view of the difficulties that there are in finding staff in the non-government sector and in the church school sector. Other schools - I do not say this as a criticism but as a statement of fact - from other churches in the main have not attempted to reach every child with their form of religious education. They are in fact elite schools, and I do not believe that they are in the same financial straits as are the Catholic parish schools. I believe that from the point of view of meeting the needs of children we should look at the needs of the children and the needs of the schools and give priority to those who are in greatest need and not to those who are in schools which, because they can charge high fees, can provide adequate facilities.

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