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Friday, 16 June 1989
Page: 4308
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Senator Walsh —On 28 February 1989 (Hansard, page 20), Senator Macklin asked me a question without notice concerning the education of gifted and talented children. The Minister for Employment, Education and Training has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Government has not taken action flowing from recommendations in the Report of the Senate Select Committee on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children because:

education is primarily the responsibility of State Governments although the Commonwealth has fostered activity, debate and interest relating to the needs of gifted and talented children;

as a general principle the Commonwealth considers that the continuing provision for gifted and talented students should be made by school and system authorities from resources available to them. These resources include funding provided through Commonwealth general resources and specific purpose programs; and

the Commonwealth and States are examining, in the Australian Education Council context, the possibility of a national centre (or centres) focusing on research and training relating to the education of gifted children.

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Senator Walsh —On 7 June 1989 (Hansard, page 3534), Senator Panizza asked me a question without notice concerning funding for the School of Dentistry at the University of Western Australia. The Minister for Employment, Education and Training has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

There is absolutely no basis to the Senator's assertion that funding levels for tertiary institutions have been reduced and that the School of Dentistry at the University of Western Australia might close due to funding cuts.

In the 1988 Budget the Government announced a significant real increase in the funds available to the higher education system over the next triennium. An additional $870 million will be provided over the triennium resulting in the creation of an additional 49,000 student places and the commencement or completion of more than 100 new major building projects. The University of Western Australia will receive an additional $1.33 million in 1989 to increase its intake level by 150 places and further growth will be funded in 1990 and 1991. Capital funds will also be provided to enable a start to be made on a new biological science building to cost $6.24 million.

The discussions which the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University have been having concerning the possible merger of the two institutions were initiated by the institutions themselves. They are not being forced to amalgamate by the Federal Government but the Government has indicated that it would support such a merger.

The recent Report of the Task Force on Amalgamations in Higher Education recommended that an additional $6.45 million, comprising $1.95 million from the National Priority (Reserve) Fund and $4.5 million for capital projects, be provided to the two institutions. The Government's decisions on the recommendations of the Task Force's Report will be announced today.

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