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Thursday, 29 October 1970

Dr SOLOMON (Denison) - In characteristic fashion the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) moves From disaster to disaster liberally interspersed with crises and strangulations. I find it hard to believe that the situation is as gloomy as he paints it although 1 have no doubt that there is at least an element of truth in what he says. We well know that education institutions, whether they are new advanced colleges or older institutions at any level, can always use more money. 1 do not want to be seen to suggest thateducation is not in need of more funds. But as the honourable member for Bendigo and others well know, the question is one which has been with us in the field of education since anybody can remember and I would have thought that certainly as far as colleges of advanced education are concerned - and they are our main concern in this Bill - the problem was not one so much of finance at this stage but of organisation and definition of what their role is and of developing them in an educative sense.

It alarms me a little to see that the honourable member for Bendigo accepts unequivocally and without qualification, and even without critical analysis, all educational demands which are made known to him or to which he is party. Last of all, if I may say so with respect, it worries me that he takes bis crises from newspaper headlines. 1 think one can say that almost by definition - with very few exceptions - education is not the sort of field in which crises suddenly occur because of the production of a newspaper headline. There are problems and needs which can be defined as the months go by and they can be dealt with or not dealt with. It may be true that ultimately they develop to a point where you think that the word ''crisis' is deserved, but I think it is deserved very many fewer times than the honourable member for Bendigo and some of his confreres on the other side of the House would like to have us believe.

May 1 confine my remarks to these cognate Bills? They relate particularly to the development of the colleges of advanced education and to university salaries. As fac as colleges are concerned, and this is a matter we touched on in relation to tha Canberra College before the suspension of the sitting, the problem is one, as I see it, of defining the role of these institutions. lt may be argued, and I am sure the honourable member for Bendigo would argue it if he has not already, that we should know precisely where we are going, exactly how many people are going to be where, and precisely what will happen when they get there. That is a very nice sort of Utopian field to behold, but I rather fear that this is beyond the ability of this or any other government. What we have to look at is whether or not we can keep pace with the genuine demands of qualified people for education in advanced colleges in lieu or instead of universities or other institutions of higher learning.

As we have already identified in a previous debate, the question seems to me to be that all colleges of advanced education touch on several already established fields. They are taking unto themselves already at least part of the field of teacher training. That, I think, is quite a sensible if not an admirable development. They are touching already on the fields already identified with technical colleges and institutes of technology and . they are in some respects taking from those fields of a more practical kind which were hitherto the occupation, or partly so, of universities. In a previous debate on this subject the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) talked of critical inquiry as regards colleges of advanced education. Nobody would deny the right: or the desirability of students of these colleges to be engaged in and to be learning critical inquiry. But we do have to make some definition and some identification of aptness and placement and one must, I think, immediately see that universities have traditionally been those institutions engaged in inquiry for its own sake. To a much greater degree the colleges of advanced education are, as I understand it, advised and defined, or should be defined, to cope with problems of a more applied nature - accounting courses, business management and matters of that kind and many other fields which would come to mind if one applied oneself to the task. But while this area of critical inquiry is desirable at all levels we have to have regard to the fact that one sort of institution is the best in that field while another is, as it were, taking it marginally. We have to regard this as of direct relevance to the question of the salaries of those people who work in them and also, perhaps, to some extent the nature of the buildings and the institutions which are being developed.

As against the proposition put by the honourable member for Bendigo of vast wastelands of new colleges of advanced education and somewhat older technological institutions in Victoria we have, for example, the college of advanced education on Mount Nelson in Hobart. There, to the best of my knowledge, the building is lagging about a year behind schedule - not, as far as I know, because of inadequate finance but rather because of problems of building, organisation and so on. I do not want to run a local example unduly, but it is, I think, relevant to what I am saying. To me it raises the problem of appropriateness as to where these things are and what they are going to do. The question which raised itself as soon as this institution was proposed was: 'Why not have it in Launceston?' I am sure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) would be only too ready to agree with me that Launceston would have been an ideal place.

I believe in that regard that insufficient cognisance was taken of the psychological atmosphere, the ethos of the moment. Launceston was very much wanting a university college in-built for home grown tertiary education. It was seen to be inappropriate, in the light of the size of the University of Tasmania, but it appeared that Launceston would have been an entirely appropriate city in which te build Tasmania's first college of advanced education. 1 understand that the decision was made, on the grounds of the relative location of the numbers of students, to put that new institution within a stone's throw - literally, I mean - of the University of Tasmania. I still have a suspicion that it would have been better placed, certainly in terms of public demand - I am not quite so sure on the educational basis - in Launceston. lt would have been taken very readily unto the bosom of the people of Launceston, there to match, perhaps, the new Launceston teachers college.

That is just one example, and I do not want to take it any further. But to me these new institutions are presented with more serious problems than those outlined by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mt Kennedy) who preceded me. At this stage I will not take any further the question of the difference in the definition of colleges of advanced education and universities because that is a broad field and we are here really dealing with a fairly specific field. 1 do not want further to open up the whole field. But I want to say a few words about the second Bill which we are discussing in this debate. It is certainly a related Bill. It concerns entirely the question of university salaries. The salaries are set out in the appropriate part of the Bill. As I am sure honourable members will recall, it sets out that professorial salaries are to be approximately $5,000 above the base rate paid to honourable members, and I am sure that honourable members will regard that in a true altruistic light. However, the problem, if there is a problem, is not at the professorial level; it is further down the scale. I should say in passing that it is. quite necessary that we should validate this Bill because I understand that the newly elected member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) may be in some difficulty with his back salary. I think that he has been paid the new salary since the beginning of the year. So 1 hope that honourable members opposite will co-operate so that the new member will not be embarrassed.

I believe that the question of salaries in universities and, for that matter, in colleges of advanced education is more appropriately discussed lower down the scale. I believe that universities - and I hope that colleges of advanced education will not follow suit - have for many years made the mistake qf arguing their salaries from the point of view of the professional level. That is bad politics and bad publicity because somebody always knows a professor who manages to mow his lawn in the middle of the week and thereby that person concludes that the professor works only about 20 hours a week. Some professors may work such hours, but most of those I know work probably closer to 50 or 60 hours a week. The fact that they arc not working behind a desk from 9 o'clock in the morning to 5 o'clock in the afternoon is really quite irrelevant to the issue.

The problem regarding salaries in these institutions arises really at the lecturing level rather than at the top end of the scale. In fact, even larger problems arise just . below the lecturing level. I take it thai the amounts involved in this Bill in fact make provision for people in the demonstrator categories who are nevertheless academics but are less identifiably so than the junior lecturers. But in both of those categories it is absolutely essential that we should be paying as much as we can pay because we are talking here - and T make no bones about this or apologies for saying it - of the best qualified people hi the community in terms of educational qualifications; in terms of what should be paid for having a certificate or passing an examination or something ot that nature. Of course, 1 know that there are other people in the community who have been educated in the university of hard knocks and that sort of thing. But here we are dealing with education per se, and it is absolutely important that universities and colleges of advanced education should be able to compete with industry, with the community at large, for the best possible skills in this area.

Of course I know that there arc other problems. Those skills are not always equally identified with teaching skills, but 1 will leave that matter for the time being and talk in terms of buying, as it were, the best brains or some of the best brains, anyway, for teaching other people; for passing on their capacity in a particular discipline. The honourable member for Bendigo has raised quite rightly the question of salaries in colleges of advanced education. 1 do not want to sound as though I am talking like an old university type in this matter, but it should be quite clearly seen that in their present role of fairly substantially applied educators, these colleges of advanced education should in my opinion quite definitely be paying salaries which are demonstrably lower than those paid in universities.

I think that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) mentioned earlier that he could envisage the ultimate blending of colleges of advanced education with universities. That may be a great thing, although I should like him tj identify what he means by that a lot more closely before I could concur. But before he does so, I think that we have to take the opposite view; that we are not in fact seeking to blend them. We do not want to make undue and unnecessary compartmentisation. We want to see universities, which are essentially research plus teaching institutions, and colleges of advanced education fulfilling a need which was not previously fulfilled. If we do not see it in that way, then colleges of advanced education are redundant, to some extent, because I do not think than anybody could make out an immediate case that everybody who is to be found in any of the tertiary institutions should be put in a university. We have to make a discrimination, whoever it does not suit. Perhaps some of the honourable members opposite on occasions tend to be more concerned with equality than with equality of opportunity. I believe that it is not right to envisage everybody immediately entering universities. We all have our role to play, and I think it would be a pity if in fact it were assumed immediately that colleges of advanced education should become universities overnight. I say that for reasons which I have outlined, I think, in an earlier debate.

It is important that the salaries of staff at colleges of advanced education should be kept at the highest possible levels. It is equally important, I should think, that the salaries of staff at universities should be a little distance away. Of course, the honourable member for Bendigo already has raised the question of teachers salaries. The whole structure is integrated. It is quite simply a question of supply and demand. As I see it, the reason why we pay relatively high salaries to people in universities is that they are hard to find. In the last few years in nearly all of the disciplines of which I am aware, it has been hard to find people with the appropriate formal qualifications for appointment to university positions. Some few years ago, 10, 30 or 40 people applied for positions but in the last few years only 2, 3 or 4 people have applied for positions. That situation has changed in a few fields. We already know that the science boom in schools has, for example, produced the result that 20, 30 or 40 people apply for a lectureship in chemistry or physics. But that is the way these things go, and we need to keep the situation under observation and perhaps under control. I believe that it is impossible to iron out totally fluctuations in this sort of filing.

Finally, I believe that these 2 Bills are indeed appropriately taken as cognate Bills. The whole question of the development of colleges of advanced education must be integrated with the wellbeing of the staffs who man them. The whole process of education must be seen as one continuum. It is an easy matter to identify particular areas of need and forget that they have a relationship to the rest It is equally an easy matter to talk in terms of crises. I certainly do not suggest that all is rosy in the education field. I receive a sufficient number of letters from people around the country to move me to realise that there are teachers who have very considerable problems of conscience, as it were, when they find themselves inadequately placed in certain schools. I think that has always been so. It is so in the United States of America and in Britain. It is so in almost any area in which you like to look. It is not of course so in the universities or in any of those entities. But the situation in such a broad field as education is as variable as you would like to find it

I commend these 2 Bills to the House. I believe that their object is entirely proper and that they will be one more link in the chain - extensive as it has become - of educational promotion in Australia. It may leave certain inadequacies in the field of advanced colleges but I am as yet unpersuaded that this field is the most needy still remaining in the whole educational entity of Australia.

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