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Thursday, 7 November 1985
Page: 1735

Senator MACKLIN —My question is directed to the Minister for Education. In light of the importance of the prices and incomes accord to the economic and social policies of this Government, will the Minister indicate what consideration the Government has given to the resolutions of the recent Australian Council of Trade Unions congress on the provision of new places in private schools, the maintenance of effort by private schools and the funding of private schools, particularly relating to accountability? Will the Government introduce legislation to give effect to the Commonwealth Schools Commission's recommendations on accountability for private schools which are similar in most details to those proposed by the ACTU?

Senator RYAN —I point out to Senator Macklin that, although the Government is, of course, very interested in the views of the ACTU congress on education, education policies are determined by the Government and not by any other body. Resolutions from the ACTU congress have been sent to me and they cover areas which are already matters of existing Government policy, as Senator Macklin has pointed out. But any decisions that the Government makes in regard to education policy will be made as a result of very wide consideration of the issues and not simply in response to resolutions that might be made at the ACTU congress.

At this stage we have made no decision regarding the new accountability provisions recommended by the Schools Commission in its 1986 report. The reason for this is that the legislation enacted last year for the funding of government and non-government schools contained a very wide range of new accountability provisions. The Government is now in the pro- cess of implementing those new procedures. It is my view at this stage that those procedures are wide ranging enough to ensure that taxpayers' money is being properly accounted for both in the narrow financial sense and in the broader educational sense. However, after we have implemented the procedures that were laid out in the legislation last year we will be in a position to assess whether any further accountability procedures are required. At this stage, if we can get the kind of information that is set out in last year's Act, we will be acting in a very responsible way in terms of our accounting for the expenditure of taxpayers' money on government and non-government schools.