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Friday, 2 December 1983
Page: 3239

Senator HAMER —My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs. Is it true that the Government has rejected repeated requests to give a commitment to fund the university component of the new Queen Victoria Medical Centre in Melbourne and that this is causing expensive delays to the project? Is it true that the Government of Victoria has agreed to proceed with the building of the university component providing the Federal Government will specify a future date on which it will fund the project? Is it true that if such a commitment is not given this year the entire project may be delayed at a cost of up to $90,000 a day, despite the fact that the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission has been aware of the need for such funding for at least 10 years, and that unless the university component of the project proceeds it may be necessary for Monash University to close its medical school because of the lack of clinical teaching facilities? What is the Government doing about this very unsatisfactory situation?

Senator RYAN —None of the assertions made in Senator Hamer's question is true. The question reveals an ignorance of the way in which decisions about the funding of projects in the tertiary education sector are made. Monash University has submitted a concept proposal to the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission for the construction of clinical teaching facilities at the Queen Victoria Medical Centre. It has been advised that the proposal has been approved in concept at a figure of $6m in June 1982 cost values. Such approval indicates the Commission's agreement that the proposal warrants consideration along with other projects as funds become available.

The timing of the total project is a matter for the Victorian Government. The Victorian Government has sought a commitment as to the timing of any Commonwealth contribution to the cost of constructing the facilities. The proposal will have to compete annually with other capital developments in higher education for the share of available resources. The university must now keep the proposal before the Commission until it is judged to have reached a high enough priority to be recommended for inclusion in the capital program for a particular year.

The arrangements for the construction of the Queen Victoria Medical Centre are the responsibility of the State Government. The relocation of the Centre has been under consideration in Victoria for many years. However, no formal request for funds for the construction of new clinical teaching facilities was submitted to the CTEC until early this year. I know of no proposal to close Monash University's medical school. Such a proposal would be of great concern to the Commonwealth and to the people of Victoria.