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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1749

Mr OLDMEADOW (HOLT, VICTORIA) - My question, which is directed to the Minister for Education, relates to the report prepared by the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education which was tabled in the Parliament last week and in which it was suggested that a university should be situated in the vicinity of Dandenong. When was the Victorian Government asked for detailed information regarding its proposal for a 3-campus country university? Was this information supplied? Has Victoria proposed at any time that Victoria's fourth university should be sited in the eastern part of Melbourne with branches in country centres?

Mr BEAZLEY - The story of the fourth university in Victoria goes back a long way and I could not propose to cover the whole field. But it was a promise before the State elections of 1970 and it now is a promise before the State elections of 1973. The Victorian Government did set up a committee to examine this question. The Committee did not report in favour of a tripartite university. It did report in favour of a university which, as I understand it, was nearer to Melbourne. But the Victorian Cabinet decided upon a country university.

Mr Bourchier - For decentralisation.

Mr BEAZLEY - That is entirely its business, whether it is decentralisation or not. I am asked a question of fact about the approach by the Victorian Government presumably for financial assistance for this university. On 27th July last year the Victorian Government wrote to my predecessor about it and he replied that it was now the normal practice of the Commonwealth for these requests to go to the Australian Universities Commission and the Commission would be the adviser of the Commonwealth Government on the matter. My predecessor, the honourable member for Wannon, arranged a meeting of the Universities Commission and the Victorian education authorities on 13th October last year. On that date the Universities Commission asked the Victorian Gov.vernment for these points: It said that it would be unable to advise the Commonwealth until it knew the location of the proposed buildings; that it would need to know the number of students contemplated initially and the growth envisaged in the first 5 years; that it would need to know the details of the proposed relationship between the university and local teachers colleges and colleges of advanced education; and that it would need to know the foundation departments and the academic pattern. This advice was promised.

On 5th February, not having received the advice promised on 13th October, the Universities Commission wrote to Mr Thompson reminding him of the advice that had been promised but not received. On 12th February the Premier of Victoria announced that a new university would be established. On 22nd February, without giving the information asked for Mr Thompson wrote to the Universities Commission. The letter for some reason was not received until 1st March. On 2nd March the Universities Commission again wrote to Mr Thompson asking for the information and had not received it last Thursday when I tabled the report. However, on 13th March Mr Thompson announced in the Victorian Legislative Assembly that the Victorian Government took full responsibility for the fourth university. Not having got a negative from the Commonwealth, because there had not been a request put to us, Mr Thompson invented a negative last Thursday for the sake of his election campaign.

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