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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 4948


Senator BELL (10.33 a.m.) —The Democrats will be supporting this set of amendments. We have been advised, and we are informed by a variety of individual schools and associations that the case, as Senator Teague has put it, of independent schools being able to remain independent of each other as well as independent of the state government education provisions is a very important matter for independent schools and is compromised by the government's proposal.

  The method of applying equity programs at the moment is a method which ensures that independent schools, regardless of their association with each other, regardless of their level of acceptance by their peers or their association with the `establishment'—the group which establishes itself as the traditional providers of independent non-government education—have the opportunity to apply on merit to the minister and not be influenced by their degree of association with each other or with any other system. As far as we are concerned, that opportunity guarantees the access there should be under this equity program. I think Senator Teague has expressed the argument with clarity and accuracy, and we support that proposition.