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Thursday, 28 November 1974
Page: 2982

Senator RAE (Tasmania) -This Bill is a standing indictment of this Government's economic management inefficiency. It simply updates, due to inflation, the funds to be made available in respect of schools in Australia. Because the time is now 10.26 p.m. and we are due to rise at 10.30, and as the Opposition is anxious to see that the education programs of the States throughout Australia go ahead, I shall limit my comments and speak with much greater brevity than I otherwise would. I am anxious to see the Bill passed today to ensure that funds are available. What has happened is that a program was prepared by the Karmel Committee. It was adopted by the Government and it was adopted by the Parliament. It has been implemented through the Schools Commission. Over the past IS months it has been found totally inadequate because of the ravages of inflation following the calculations that were made. So it is necessary for the Government to introduce this legislation to increase very substantially the amounts of money which are to be expended so that the program has some chance of going ahead as planned with the same number of schools to be built and maintained and the same number of teachers to be provided, together with the various other aspects of the education program.

I take this opportunity to make one other comment. It is curious whilst we are having a debate on this Bill to recall the days late last year when there was considerable debate in this chamber on the creation of the Schools Commission and to be told now by some people associated with it that many of the arguments that the Opposition put forward last year have proved to be correct.

We were right in expressing the fears which we did- and I remind the Senate that although we did not oppose the Schools Commission we did have reservations about how it would operate. So many of those aspects to which we drew attention now seem to have caused problems. In relation to the categorisation of non-Government schools again we have seen what we said then proved correct. Schools are being forced to close down as a result of this Government's policy. 1 do not take any longer than simply to remind the Senate that not only have those things happened but also we have had repeated time and again the absurd claims that have been made by the Government about the extent to which it has increased assistance to education in Australia. As is well known now it was only a sleight of hand exercise because in producing the Budget figures, which give a false impression, the Government has included sums which were otherwise going to education, not through the education allocation in the Budget but through grants to the States. Putting those sums of money into the appropriation for education makes it look as though the Government has increased education expenditure by very much more than it has. In fact in last year's Budget over one-third of the total increase was this transfer of money which was otherwise being paid by the States out of Commonwealth funds but which is now being paid direct from the Commonwealth.

Senator McLaren - It is still a lot more than you gave, senator. You would agree with that.

Senator RAE - If Senator McLaren wants a full debate let us have one. I have a lot more comments I would like to make. But in view of the time I conclude by saying that the Opposition supports the Bill with an anxiety that the Government should try to bring inflation under control so that this type of Bill is not necessary.

Senator Grimes - Is that the best you can do after 3 days out of this place?

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack - In view of the remark by the Government senator I move:

That an extension of time be granted to Senator Rae.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster) Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator Cavanagh - Mr Deputy President-

Debate interrupted.

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