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Tuesday, 8 May 1984
Page: 1754

Senator TEAGUE(9.04) —I also welcome the Commonwealth Schools Commission report on Commonwealth standards for Australian schools. I add this fresh argument only in relation to the evidence that is displayed in the report: By and large, because of the poorer standards in non-government schools, if all the parents of children in those schools were so concerned about the low resource levels that they, as is their right, decided to enrol those children in government schools, one-third would be added to the cost of government schools. There would be a net increase in government spending of about one-quarter of the present moneys committed to school education in Australia. Some parents will decide that their children should go to non-government schools, despite the lower standards that are described in this report and despite the evidence that there are fewer resources in recurrent terms and in most cases in capital terms as well in non-government schools. If that became a matter of concern to the parents and they then enrolled their children in government schools, neither the government schools nor the taxpayers could cope with the additional costs that would be required to be found for the changed enrolments.

I believe the Government seeks to hide, seeks not to exhibit to the electors of Australia, the fact that to the extent that there is a move to non-government schools, there is a tax saving because of the proportion of taxpayers' funds which go on government enrolments. I would rather see a response to this differential in standards that is outlined in the report. The Government should respond to need, as the former Government responded to need, and ensure that sufficient recurrent resources are available to all Australian students alike in terms of their schooling and education needs. Why should it be that some Australians are less equal than other Australians? Where there is a differential in the standards that are clearly set out in this report before us today, the Government should respond to that need and ensure that the same opportunities are available to Australian school children whether they enrol in the government or non-government sector.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

(Quorum formed)