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Wednesday, 6 November 1985
Page: 1651

Senator LEWIS —I ask the Minister for Education whether it is a fact that the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has reneged on the agreement to continue to provide student accommodation at the Phillip Hostel, Maribyrnong, after the end of this year. What action has the Minister taken, if any, to provide affordable hostel accommodation for 1986 and thereafter for Victorian country students studying at the Footscray Institute of Technology, the Melbourne College of Advanced Education and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology?

Senator RYAN —It is the case that accommodation that was to be made available to tertiary students in Victoria by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs no longer will be available. The reason is that the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs needed it for its own purposes. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has advised me that following a comprehensive review it was decided to rationalise the migrant centre network across Australia.

Senator Lewis —What does `rationalise it' mean-close it down?

Senator RYAN —Certainly the phrase in Senator Lewis's question about reneging on an undertaking is entirely wrong. The accommodation was only ever made available on a temporary basis and it was understood by all parties concerned that when the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs needed the accommodation it would be resumed by the Department for that purpose. There have been further discussions between Mr Hurford and the Victorian Government about other accommodation that could be made available, but that particular accommodation is no longer available for students and will be used by the Department for its own purposes.

Senator LEWIS —I have a supplementary question. The Minister failed to answer my question, which was: What is she doing about providing some accommodation for those students?

Senator RYAN —It is not entirely the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to provide accommodation for tertiary students. Some funds made available to tertiary institutions under the States Grants (Tertiary Education Assistance) Act are devoted to that purpose. That takes place when institutions have put up accommodation proposals, those proposals have been endorsed by the co-ordinating body in the State and, finally, have had recommendations about funding made in respect of them by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission. No such procedures have been gone through in the case of these particular students and it is not the particular responsibility of the Commonwealth to act in these matters.