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Thursday, 27 September 1973
Page: 1671

Mr KEOGH (BOWMAN, QUEENSLAND) - And a cellar, as the Minister reminds me. It is not good enough for members of the previous Government to stand up and say: 'We introduced a scheme. This Government is only adding to it.' The previous Government certainly introduced a scheme. The previous Government certainly recognised, reluctantly, some responsibility for the education of migrant children lacking knowledge of the English language. But- ft is not good enough for the previous Government to do as it did, to introduce and implement a half-baked scheme, as the previous- scheme was. This amending legislation will tidy, up the problems that have been revealed by the task forces inquiring into migrant education in the various States.

This afternoon the honourable member for Warringah also referred to the aspect of preschool education. This was mentioned, in the Migrant Task Force report prepared in Queensland under the chairmanship of my colleague the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross). I refer this report, so well prepared, to honourable members. Time will not permit me this evening to quote from it to any great extent or even to refer to it, .but I certainly suggest to honourable members who have a copy of it to read through it because it is a typical indication of how the education of migrant children is struggling for survival in various areas of Queensland! From what I have seen in the reports of task forces in the other States, this is typical of 'the situation in those States. " ' " '

This legislation is very timely. It is another indication of the concern that the Minister has shown for the responsibilities of his portfolio. It is an indication of the attitude that has been adopted generally by this Government in regard to migrant welfare. It has moved in various ways to tidy up the discriminatory practices of the previous Government. The resistance of members of this Parliament in the Senate, aided and abetted here by some of the ultra-conservatives who are still living in the last century, has meant that the people who look forward so much to the benefits of the implementation of the Government's reforms must in some instances wait a while longer to receive those benefits. In this instance, of course, they need not wait. These demountable class rooms are to be made available. The grant of money is there. It is a very urgent measure and the class rooms will be proceeded with immediately.

Finally I want to congratulate the Minister on one other course of action which he indicated recently that it was his intention to implement. It was disclosed to the House recently in reply to a question that I asked him in regard to the rigid system and methodology, of teaching that had been used for English language training for migrant children and for adult migrants over a long period of time. The system was introduced some 25 years ago and, like so many other things, had just been carried on by the previous Government. It had not been reviewed. It had not been updated. But this Minister is moving to update that scheme. He indicated to me in answer to my question that he is investigating and giving consideration to bringing people to Australia and awarding fellowships to teachers who speak English who would come here from some of the major countries from which we draw our migrants and that these people would be fitted into the Australian schools system. They would have a background of familiarity with the life in the source countries of migration. They would come here with a knowledge of the English language and they would be able to combine their talents to the great benefit of the migrant children concentrated in many of the schools, in the inner city areas particularly, of our major capital cities. I congratulate the Minister on that move.

The introduction of these teachers into the schools will be of added benefit to the children when they have their opportunity in the near future to enjoy the benefits of these temporary class rooms that it is the intention to provide under this legislation. Once again I must say that it is important that we continue to develop advances in these schemes. I have been critical of the previous Government for failing to provide these class rooms when the legislation was introduced. However, giving credit where credit is due, I compliment the previous Government - perhaps belatedly - for the fact that in 1971 it became aware of the need for the provision of teachers and for the provision of finance for the instruction of migrant children. I also congratulate the Minister for adding this very worthwhile implementation to that scheme. I support the Bill and look forward to its receiving the unanimous endorsement of all members of this House.

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