Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2573

Senator RAE (Tasmania) -These Bills are being taken together. The Opposition does not oppose any of them and in its usual cooperative way in relation to matters involving education wishes to see the greatest expedition possible in the achievement of educational objectives. However, we remind the Senate that many of these things were put in train by us while in Government. They have been a little slow coming to fruition, perhaps, because of the Government's over-concentration on some other aspects of education. But they are largely machinery matters. For instance, it is proposed to change the name, for some unknown reason, of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education. But the Opposition says that if that is what the Government wants then by all means let it change the name by deleting the word 'Australian' from the Australian Commission on Advanced Education. Other provisions include the appointment of a deputy chairman. The work of the Commission on Advanced Education has increased. If the Government believes it is necessary that a deputy chairman should be appointed for a term not exceeding 7 years and that he should be able to undertake a full time role, the Opposition sees no reason why we should not support that provision. As far as the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 3) is concerned, we were told in the second reading speech that it follows the assumption by the Government of full financial responsibility for tertiary education from January 1974, and tuition fees at universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and technical colleges will become the full responsibility of the Commonwealth Government.

Here we have another example of this quite incredible attitude on the part of the Government. It can be explained only on the basis that it is a result of what is known in common parlance as a hangup. We have, as Senator McManus referred to last night, a situation where the Government is prepared to abolish fees at tertiary institutions so that anyone, irrespective of income, may attend them without the payment of fees. But at the same time this Government for the sake of about $5m per annum or, if we take the figure of $8m over 2 years which was mentioned last night by Senator Douglas McClelland, about $4m per annum, could apply the principle of an entitlement of a basic grant to all school children. But apparently school children come into some special category which is to be singled out for a different principle to be applied to them by this Government from that which is applied by the same Government to tertiary education. The logic of that would defy even the most expert logician. We find that the Government is prepared to assume responsibility for the full payment of fees in relation to universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and technical colleges. One can only ask: Why does the Government wish to exclude 40 per cent of the children attending non-systemic schools in Australia from receiving the money promised in respect of their education? I might comment that it is interesting when considering this extraordinary attitude on the part of the Government to note that as late as 8 February of this year the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), who introduced these Bills, said this in a letter to the Secretary of the Parents and Friends Federation of Victoria:

I am confident that no non-government school will suffer as a result of the Government's initiatives and that many will benefit.

Senator Gair - Who said that?

Senator RAE - That was said by Mr Kim E. Beazley, Minister for Education, in a letter dated 8 February 1973- long after the election and long after the promises that were made last year.

He was still reasserting the view which he had asserted so often last year; that in effect per capita grants would be continued. I repeat that he said:

I am confident that no non-government school will suffer as a result of the Government's initiatives and that many will benefit.

Senator Devitt - Surely that last part qualifies the situation. He said that many will benefit.

Senator RAE - Many will benefit and none will suffer.

Senator Devitt - They are not suffering. If they do not have so many swimming pools they will not suffer.

Senator RAE - Senator Devitthas raised an interesting point and I think I should spend a moment m clarifying it. It seems that Senator Devitt is very keen on giving consideration to the number of swimming pools a school has but funnily enough the Karmel Committe, which worked out the categories, paid no regard whatever to that matter. It paid regard only to the pupil-teacher ratio and the other recurrent expenses. It disregarded entirely whether a school does not have a swimming pool or whether it has 53 swimming pools. The fact is that many of the poor schools were penalised thereby. If they had used their resources to increase the number of teachers rather than building swimming pools they would likely be in a very high category, category A or category B. This is where the Labor Party, the Government, becomes so completely irrational on this subject. Although it keeps referring to things like the value of school land, the value of school buildings and the value of equipment, which may include swimming pools, the Karmel Committee paid no attention to that aspect. In fact the schools that the Government is penalising often are the ones that do not have any of those advantages.

These Bills provide for the introduction of a number of programs that were put in motion by the former Government. They relate to such things as the extension of management education courses at the University of New South Wales. I understand that that was started by the previous Government, the Liberal-Country Party Government. We are glad to see this being introduced. We believe that there is a need for that type of course to be more readily available. We believe that the building of a National School of Management Education in Australia will help develop a greater degree of sophistication and finesse in management in Australia. Perhaps the Government may send some of its members to it and the country may gain an advantage from that as well. There are to be other programs. I refer to the increased amount of money for social worker training which we agree is desirable. We supported the prior legislation in regard to this matter and we support this legislation.

The other Bills provide for some variations in the amount of money and the destinations of money being made available under programs basically developed and approved by us in government and we support them. Although there has been this great hoo-ha by the Government in relation to education and its Budget, it is important to remember that of the $404m to be spent on education, which they claim is an increase of 92 per cent, $ 144.6m was a straight transfer of what had been States' expenditure. That sum is to become Commonwealth expenditure and does not represent a single cent of extra expenditure on education. Of the remainder of the money, the largest percentage is in respect of programs recommended by the Australian Universities Commission and the Advanced Education Commission, both of which were approved by the previous Government before this Government came to power. It is a political hoax of massive proportions to claim that this Government, as a result of its initiatives, has increased expenditure on education in its Budget by $404m or by 92 per cent. That claim can be refuted by the facts. It is a claim that is untrue. It is a claim that has been made to mislead the public of Australia in the same way as the Government has attempted to mislead the public in relation to a number of other aspects of education development. However, this is not the occasion on which . to further elaborate on those aspects.

We support these Bills but we simply deplore the duplicity and deceit engaged in in relation to the education debate in this country. We applaud! the provision of extra funds. We applaud the fact! that the Government has undertaken to continue \ a number of the programs which we started, ' although unfortunately it has seldom given credit for that fact. This Government has taken a number of initiatives which we also applaud but those initiatives are far less significant than all the hoo-ha and the attempted snowing, to use a phrase, of the community would have people believe. If there is to be a double dissolution on this issue and an election fought on it the people of Australia will have the opportunity of hearing the truth. We are prepared and anxious to face the people on this issue. Our record will stand; the Government's will not. The Government's record is one of broken promises, misrepresentation, misleading and deceit.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marriott)- Order! Before I call Senator Drake-Brockman I want to say that, the Senate having agreed to have a joint discussion on these 5 education measures, it took me some time to decide what was relevant in debate and what was not. I believe that Senator Rae got away from the purposes of the Bills before the Senate. I think honourable senators would agree that we do not want another debate on education. If I am occupying the Chair at the time I certainly will have to permit the Minister to reply to his remarks but I ask honourable senators to keep to the Bills that are before the Senate and not to indulge in a repeat of the education debate.

Suggest corrections