Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 1050

Mr STAPLES(11.39) —In two Budgets, under this Government, we have witnessed an increase of 10.7 per cent in direct outlays on education in 1983-84 and an estimated increase of 11.2 per cent for 1984-85. That must also be measured against a far lower consumer price index increase than operated during the Fraser years of government, so it is very significant in real terms. To date this Government, by its words and in many ways by its actions, has re- established the role and value of a strong education system and program for this country. Let us look at the progress and direction in this area, for example, the participation and equity program, the computer education program and the reactivation of the Curriculum Development Centre, all initiatives from last year's Budget. This year, for example, there has been the basic skills in primary schools program, the Quality of Education Review Committee, the introduction of stable, guaranteed funding to non-government schools on the basis of need through the community standard model and increasing expenditure to the government school system.

Time does not permit me to go into the full accounting and exploration of those initiatives, but I wish to make it clear that although I am proud to recognise the great advances being made in all levels of education by this Government, advances that will recoup a thousand-fold in years to come the dollars spent, I am not yet fully satisfied. However, there are some who should be fully satisfied. The noisiest of the private school lobby should be well satisfied with this Government's funding for those highly resourced private schools. Those in the lower-resourced non-government schools should also be very satisfied by the arrangements brought in by this Government in this Budget.

There is still a long period of abuse and neglect of the public education sector to overcome. It is the public education sector that caters for the vast majority of Australian children. It caters for the rich and the poor; it caters for the highly intelligent and the less intelligent; it caters for the handicapped and the able-bodied, those from English-speaking and those from non- English-speaking backgrounds, those from the city and, of course, those from the country. Three out of four Australian children are educated in the public education system of this country. It is the primary obligation of government to provide an education system of the highest standard, an education system open to all. While I applaud the 49.3 per cent increase in real terms in the funding of government schools over the next eight years, I remind all honourable members of the national necessity of having a much stronger public education system. It is through a strong public education system of the highest standard that we will become a stronger nation in our economic, industrial and social development. There are no two ways about that.

In the few minutes I have left I wish to say a few words about youth affairs. Next year is International Youth Year. What an opportunity 1985 will be. This Government has recognised the importance of this event with increased funding of this area from $2m to $2.3m and increases in grants to national youth organisations by 18 per cent to $960,000. But if International Youth Year is to be more than just some television commercials and a few staged events, more than just dollars will have to be spent on it. We will have to recognise, as do the countries of the Third World whose young people have a very special role and status in their societies, that role and status here. We need to empower young people and to give them a status and a role in our society.

The future of this country towards 1988, beyond the year 2000 and beyond that again, lies firmly in the hands of the equity of our public education system and of our higher education system, that should be open to a wider range of society than it is now and to a new role, a new status and a new deal for young people in this country. This Government's second education and youth affairs Budget makes a start in that future. It will require a new spirit, realisation and determination such as this country has rarely seen or rarely been able to sustain previously. That is the real world challenge that we face in this Budget and in Budgets to come.