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Thursday, 10 May 1984
Page: 1938

Senator HAINES —My question, which is directed to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, refers to the telex reportedly sent to all Cabinet Ministers today in response to the belief of the Federation of College Academics that Cabinet may consider postponing the 1985-87 triennial funding. I understand a copy of the telex was sent to the Minister's office earlier today-in any event I have a copy with me. I ask: Can the Minister assure the Senate that Cabinet is not considering such a blatant reversal of the Australian Labor Party's re- election commitment to triennial funding? Can the Minister also assure the Senate that in fact the Australian Labor Party Government will remain true to its promise by extending triennial funding to equipment and capital programs? If the Minister cannot assure the Senate now about these matters, thereby running a real risk of fuelling speculation and adding further strain to the prices and incomes accord, can she give an indication as to when she will be able to announce Cabinet's decision on those matters?

Senator RYAN —I can indicate when I will be able to announce the decisions. Those decisions will be announced when I issue the guidelines to the two education commissions. I expect that will be early in July. However, I can reassure Senator Haines and the people on whose behalf she is raising the matter today, that I will be tabling the report of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission for 1985-87 in the Senate this afternoon. The time lag in tabling it from the time when I received it is due entirely to the time lag in the printing processes. The reports are hot off the press today; I hope they arrive in time for the tabling. They will be tabled. I am sure that will be a reassurance to all those people concerned with the future of higher education in this country. Individual decisions and recommendations will, of course, be taken up to the extent that budgetary circumstances permit. CTEC's recommendations will form a part of our budgetary considerations in the next few weeks. The decisions will be announced, as I said, at the time of the handing down of the guidelines to the two education commissions.