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Tuesday, 30 November 1971
Page: 3836

Mr DONALD CAMERON (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - The only thing that exceeds the sincerity of the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) is his facility for living in a dream world and those people who listen on another occasion when he is speaking will hear him referring to the need to spend more money on such things as pensions, national development and irrigation. He is hoping that the Australian people will fall for the suggestion put forward by the Australian Labor Party that if the Commonwealth takes over education it will be the end of all the problems. But the fact which everyone understands is that the Commonwealth has only a certain amount of money and this type of involvement with its weaknesses would have limited benefits. It is all very well for the honourable member to compare the Australian Universities Commission with a national schools commission which the amendment put forward by the Opposition tonight seeks to establish. But the facts of life are that the honourable member for Barton would not have any idea at all how many primary and secondary schools there were throughout Australia. - Mr Kennedy - You do not know either.

Mr DONALD CAMERON (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Anybody in this House could remind the honourable member for Barton and the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy), who just interjected, that there are just 18 universities throughout Australia. To compare the control of 18 universities by an independent organisation with the control of literally thousands of primary and secondary schools is ridiculous. Does the honourable member for Barton know where the Humpybong State school is? He shakes his head. He does not know where I am talking about. He thinks I am talking about Arnhem Land. It is in the Petrie electorate on the Redcliffe peninsula. The honourable member puts forward these dreams as though they will solve ali the problems before us.

The suggestion has been made tonight that what the Labor Party would have in store if it ever came to government would put an end to the problems of education; this is so much rubbish. A few weeks ago the totalled up expenditure required to meet the promises made during the socalled mini-campaign of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) exceeded $4 billion. On the day he spoke about education in Adelaide, when he told the Australian people it would not cost anything, he committed the expenditure of some S900m in one go. All of us, including the honourable member for Barton who feels that his electors might not be quite as sensible, know that there is only one way that the Government gets its money and that is out of the taxpayers' pockets. So what the honourable member is suggesting is that the Commonwealth should stop giving money to the States and should take over education. I am totally opposed to a concept of centralisation when it comes to primary and secondary education, and I say that without qualification. The honourable member for Barton wandered far and wide in the debate of a Bill which really seeks to make available to the States some $30m for the creation and construction of more library buildings.

One goes back to the comment about teachers colleges. Many young teachers are leaving the profession today and I agree with the honourable member opposite that this is totally undesirable. I believe we should be more flexible in our attitude towards granting scholarships to people who are perhaps 30 or 35 years of age, not in the later stages of life but in the maturer years, and who decide they would like to become teachers. I believe quite sincerely that when a person of that age makes up his mind to choose a profession he has made up his mind on a solid basis. So many young people today go to a teachers training college only because they are able to get a teachers scholarship which gives them an opportunity to further their education. Many of them are hardly out of college, with a couple of years out in the world, when they realise it was not the profession for them. Then we have the controversial bond system under which they are held to their profession and at times pupils are subjected to teachers who are dissatisfied and only biding their time until the term of the bond expires. I do not believe that this is really in the best interests of education. I would like to return to my earlier point that there should be some reappraisal of the system of granting scholarships to older people who wish to enter the teaching profession.

The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) in trying to remember his careless raptures, which I would suggest were probably many years ago, suggested that the creation of the concept of science blocks was purely a political move for the 1963 Federal election, which is some years ago now. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is shaking his head. He is in agreement with his colleague, the honourable member for Fremantle, but this concept of science blocks and libraries has made a tremendous contribution towards the education of young Australians. For members of the Opposition to wipe it off as being purely politically motivated is totally and utterly unworthy of them.

It has been stated on many occasions that in this day and age when more knowledge and research are going into education the provision of these library facilities has enabled those children whom we might describe as exceptional students to take advantage of the facilities and on an equal basis with other children who also have these opportunities, to further their education. When these children eventually reach university or other high planes of education, they are more prepared to shoulder the responsibility that face them.

It gives me great pleasure to support the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in this Bill. I look forward to the day when the Balmoral State High Scool in the eastern end of my electorate has a new library block. A great number of secondary schools now have these library facilities. This State secondary high school still has not. Some nongovernment schools are in the same situation. I hope that this $30m allocation will not be discontinued at the end of the next triennium. Looking at the situation in my own State and studying relevant figures - and there are still a great number of secondary schools in Queensland without Commonwealthfunded libraries - 1 notice that the allocation for Queensland with respect to non-government schools is $1.338m. This is surely not enough to cover the need that exists. I advocate here and now in these early stages that because many schools still require libraries the Government should not drop this scheme at the end of. the next triennium.

I do not necessarily agree with the remarks of some members of the Opposition, but I would like to refer to the concept of providing libraries for primary schools. As I see it, there is a great waste in Commonwealth-provided libraries because, when students leave primary schools, only a small proportion of them have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the methods of use of a modern library. If we are to obtain full benefit of the great expenditure, which has been made available for building libraries - at the end of- the next triennium this amount will have reached some $57m - I think that we should be giving some thought to the lower levels of education so that these students are prepared for and are given an opportunity to understand the use of a library. When these students move on to secondary school level, virtually from the day that they arrive they will be able to take advantage of the library facilities offering.

I know that it will be argued that so much additional expenditure would be required to meet the needs of primary schools than secondary schools, because of the number of primary schools. But without distinguishing between the needs of primary and secondary schools 1 would say that libraries for primary schools could be on a much smaller scale but should embody methods to give effect to the necessity to train young people to use these libraries.

In conclusion, I state that no member on this side of the House could possibly be expected to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Fremantle. The facts of life are that if this Bill is not passed through this Parliament in this session, the expenditure of Commonwealth funds on libraries for secondary schools will cease next year because the money will not be available. I am quite sure, that the people of Australia will recognise that the amendment moved tonight represents a political ploy and a cheap political trick by the Australian Labor Party to try to help the Leader of the Opposition out of his troubles in relation to- education. I remind members of the Opposition that in recent weeks we have seen constant battles between the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Education and Science, over .this most vital question. I can hardly recall a time when the Leader of the Opposition has been as touchy on any question as he has been on the question of education. Perhaps it is because he spent millions in a half-hour television discussion in Adelaide on this topic and then suddenly realised the implications of his rather exaggerated point of view. The Minister for Education and Science wasted no time in realising the errors that the Leader of the Opposition had made and quickly followed up the subject.

I do not know what is in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition. I am quite sure that very few members of his own Party have any idea. But what I do know - and I know it positively - is that the Austraiian people will not fall for cheap and unworthy promises from the Opposition but will support this Government in its plans to enable education to continue to progress in the best way that it can and to make available facilities of the type proposed in this legislation to the children of Australia in the years to come.

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