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Tuesday, 16 October 1973
Page: 2221

Mr OLDMEADOW (Holt) - I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate on the portion of the Appropriation Bill dealing with education because I feel it is essential that the people of Australia recognise the tremendous impetus that is being given to education by this Government in both government and non-government schools. I believe that the focus of the national debates on this subject is disturbing and I think it was reflected tonight in the remarks that were made by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) in the concentration on 2 per cent of students in our schools who attend the exclusive non-government schools and the passing over of the other 98 per cent of students in complete disregard of what is going on. The honourable member accuses the Government's supporters of acting as barbarians who want to destroy excellence. I note that he is about to leave the chamber apparently because he does not want to hear what we have to say. He is now returning to his seat.

Mr Turner - I have returned to my seat. 1 have indeed returned.

Mr OLDMEADOW - I am pleased that the honourable member has returned.

Mr Turner - I want to listen to envy, hatred and malice from the honourable gentleman.

Mr OLDMEADOW - Yes, envy, hatred and malice from one who spent 25 years as a teacher in government schools.

Mr Turner - And one who went on strike often, I suppose?

Mr OLDMEADOW - If one could better conditions and strike was the right thing to do, yes I would, and I have done so. But I remind the honourable member that one of the reasons probably why I am in this place at the present time is the utter frustration that I experienced as a result of 23 of those years when Liberal-Country Party governments were in power and the paucity of funds that came through to government schools. I believe that irrespective of what school it is, whether it is a government or non-government school, we should allow aid to pass through to where the need is. We talk of excellence. Surely we want to attempt excellence in every aspect of education and not for just the 2 per cent who seem to be the concern of the honourable member. I was very impressed to hear him talk of values. I wondered whether he had read the report of the Karmel Committee. If he had read that report he would have seen the type of values on which rest the whole of our policy and the funds that we are now talking about. When this Government took office we were faced with the gross neglect of schools by the previous Government and a backlog of urgently needed work. We needed desperately an imaginative plan and a greatly increased flow of funds into the education sector. This had been promised by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his policy speech.

In the amazingly short time of 6 months an imaginative plan was forthcoming in the report from the Interim Committee of the Australian Schools Commission. This document is without doubt the most important document in relation to secondary and primary schools that has been tabled in this place. The manner in which the Government has acted in this plan, I believe, is reflected in the estimates of expenditure which we are now considering. There has been an unprecedented increase in the flow of money into our schools, both government and non-government schools. I believe that this is reflected in comparison with expenditure on education. If we look at grants that were made to Australian Government schools we find that under the previous Government there was a grant of $40.5m for 1971-72. We anticipate the spending of $495m on Government schools in the next 2 years.

Consideration interrupted.

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