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Thursday, 1 March 1984
Page: 223

Senator PETER BAUME —I refer the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs to that part of the Prime Minister's National Press Club speech last week in which he promised the fullest possible consultations with non-government schools on the new policy. He said: 'I give a guarantee that I will be fully involved in that process'. Because that part of the Prime Minister's promise has attracted the attention of non-government school authorities, I ask: Will the Minister advise the Senate exactly how and to what extent the Prime Minister will intervene within her portfolio to redeem the pledge he made?

Senator RYAN —No, at this particular stage I will not advise the Senate of the arrangements that the Prime Minister will be making in the future. I was very pleased that the Prime Minister made that announcement to the Press Club because I have been discussing these matters with him for some time and he has expressed a great interest in the whole process. I have discussed those matters with him again today, but at this stage we do not have the particular timetable.

Let me give the Senate some information about the consultations. As I recall, the Commonwealth Schools Commission is currently, and has been for the last three weeks, travelling around Australia consulting with not only representatives of non-government schools but also State Ministers, State education departments and representatives of government schools about the issues contained in the funding options paper. When the Commission has finished this process of consultation it will report to me on the results and make some proposals about how our needs based approach to funding might be expressed in terms of funding formulas for the future. It expects to be able to report to me at the end of March. At that stage, I have undertaken to consult with national government and non-government organisations about what the report has said. At that stage also I will be meeting with my State ministerial colleagues and discussing with my Federal colleagues our response to that report. At that stage it will be most suitable for the Prime Minister to become involved, but the Prime Minister's program is a matter for him to determine and I will be having further discussions with him at about that stage.