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Thursday, 29 October 1970


Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) - I think that there needs to be some clear thinking about and analysis of the resources which the Australian nation should devote to education. We also need to make a comparative analysis of our expenditure on education and that of other countries. I refer in particular to the percentage of gross national product. Over 5 or 6 years in this Parliament there have been controversies about how Australia stands as a country spending a percentage of its gross national product on education within a table of the nations. It is time that there was an authoritative analysis to see exactly what percentage we do spend and how it really does compare, if we can get a genuinely comparative figure. Commonwealth intervention in education has tended to be ad hoc. We came in when the universities were in a state of crisis, when we had the findings of the Murray Commission, and we have come in at election times with Commonwealth scholarships, with science grants, with grants for school libraries and so on. It has been very much a build-up of pieces rather than a consistent attack or philosophy of education on the part of the Commonwealth.

The problem between the Commonwealth and the States appears to me to be that the Commonwealth has the revenue producing powers of levying income tax, sales tax customs and excise, payroll tax and company tax. They are clear advantages that it has over the States. The Commonwealth and the States have departments which may become bottomless pits. For the Com monwealth they are defence, if we should continue to go on spending and spending, social services and health. The Government can spend the entire national income on health if it wants to, and in this field the more successful a doctor is in prolonging our lives the more we have to have a need for a doctor over a longer life. So we can go on with indefinite increases in that expenditure in the health' fields. The States have possible bottomless pits such as education, roads and health and again there is the expenditure on hospitals. These things need to be looked at and I will have all of these things in mind when I make comments on these 2 Bills.

In the resent election there was a tendency to discover something dreadfully sinister in a proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that universities shall be free. I went to a free university. My father being on the basic wage at the time and also in part-time employment, 1 would not have been able to attend a university in any other State but Western Australia where, thanks to the Hacket! bequests, endowments and so on, at that stage of history the University of Western Australia was free, and it was free fori about 47 years. Of course there was a steel determination on the part of some professions that if new faculties were added to the university they should no! be free. One of the rewards that the Western Australian community received for its generosity in raising £580,000 or $1,160,000 by private collection to establish a medical school was that the University of Western Australia ceased to be free. There would, I think, be some resistance to the idea of a free faculty of medicine. For nearly 50 years the University was free, without any sinister results. What really happened was that the calibre of the Stale civil service in Western Australia as a consequence was very high. In its administration it was extremely well governed. The State engineering was extremely good, as I think we can see in the roads in Western Australia. I know there is a certain amount of resentment about the share of Common- wealth money which that State received to build its roads but it does have extreme!) good engineers.


Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is mainly Commonwealth money.


Mr BEAZLEY - Yes, but I might also say that its bridges did not fall down! We had a very high percentage of sciencegraduates in teaching in the days when 1 was a student at school. Admittedly not so high a percentage went to the high schools in those days but it was far higher than that in other States.. Because the University was free, there was a higher percentage of graduates among the teachers and so on. None of these things were sinister but it is quite astonishing that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his attacks on the Leader of the Opposition discussed the idea of a free university as some kind of a plot. As I say it existed for nearly 50 years in Western Australia and it is regrettable that it has gone. There would have to be additional expenditure to make universities free but it would not be a great expenditure and the component that goes into commonwealth scholarships for fees would not then be necessary, although they would still be necessarily the component of living allowances.

There is also another question that we need to look at. There is a very great tendency when we are discussing social services - and I have mentioned that they could be a bottomless pit - not to ask the further question of whether Australia is getting a fair return on the resources that are being taken out of it. I do not think, for instance, that the State of Western Australia is getting a fair return out of its mineral wealth. This is a historic attitude on the part of Western Australian governments. We had Lord Forrest as our Premier at one stage and he rather had a tendency to believe that loyalty was to pour everything into mother Britain's lap. In the days when a man's wage for a week was £1 we had' £500m taken out of the Golden Mile. On the Golden Mile there were the most miserable schools and the most miserable hospitals one could imagine. The people of the State paid taxes for water schemes and so forth so that this wealth could be taken by overseas companies. This has been the Western Australian attitude and it has been the attitude of a great many of the States.

When we are discussing what we can afford to spend on education and social services we need to ask whether we do not have a series of State governments making a series of mug's bargains, compared with a good many other countries, about the resources that are being developed in Australia by overseas interests.

The Sweeney and Eggleston adjustments to salaries merely register the process of inflation. Let us face the fact that the expenditure in these Bills which applies to the salaries of university staffs and the staffs of colleges of advanced education are not actual increases in salaries. They are cost of living adjustments and the increased expenditure in these measures is to a very considerable extent the registering of the process of inflation. If that is true about salaries it is also necessarily true about capital expenditure on university buildings and halls of residences, those attached to schools of mines, and so on. I remember that at one stage when I was on the Council of the Australia National University in the era when value was being put back into the £1 there was scarcely any building for the Australian National University that did not end up costing about twice as much as the original estimate, because the process of inflation was going on and of course going in to building costs. If we have to register the process of inflation in expenditure for increased salary we should remember that there is the same factor affecting the actual purchasing power of money appropriated for university and college of advanced education buildings.

The crisis in education would be precisely what the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) said. In denying the existence of a crisis he said how very difficult it is to get adequate university staff. The crisis in educataion is, of course, the inability of institutions to adjust very quickly to a complete change in the values in the Australian community. In the last decade we have experienced the phenonemon of a much higher percentage of people expecting their children to get a tertiary education. Obviously we have as a consequence a crisis in trying to adjust our universities, colleges of advanced education, and technical schools to the new demand. The crisis of adjustment is not only in new buildings and in new student places; it is, of course, in the effort to attract staff. As the honourable member for Denison said in denying that there is a crisis, it is extremely difficult for universities and colleges of advanced education to get staff.

If colleges of advanced education are to award degrees, I cannot see the logic of the position of the honourable member for Denison in saying that the staffs of those colleges - at least those colleges which will conduct degree courses - should be lower than those in universities. If a Bachelor of Science degree awarded by a college of advanced education is to be the equivalent of that of a university on the basis of our national accrediting system, obviously the people who will be lecturing and providing tuition and guidance to students must be of the same calibre as those in the universities. At least that element in colleges of advanced education which are conducting degree courses should be equally paid.


Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is what the Bill does.


Mr BEAZLEY - Yes, but I am dealing with what the honourable member for Denison said. I agree that this is recognised. 1 want to move on to another point that should be recognised. I will not say that someone who is of high quality and who is a genius for giving forms of education immensely valuable to the community but which do not lead to degree courses must be rated as less valuable in the community than someone in a university who is a lecturer. The whole of our education system in Australia seems to me to be riddled with certain false assumptions. We may have someone outside our teritiary education system who is a genius-


Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How do you test that?


Mr BEAZLEY - Well, we may have someone who is a genius in the field of country teaching. Under our system this person must get promoted into the metropolitan area. There are many education systems in the world - in Scotland and elsewhere - which will give a man promotion in the position where he is without translating him to another position, if he has a genius for a particular job. The point I want to make is that a large part of our educational tragedy is that we ultimately decide that we have to translate someone who is a darned good headmaster into being a very bad Director of Education which is an entirely different job - it is an administrative job. My point is that we need to analyse promotions. We need to make an analysis of the values of certain jobs without declaring straight out that someone in a college of advanced education should necessarily be paid a lower salary than someone in a university.


Dr Solomon - Do not forget research obligations.


Mr BEAZLEY - Yes, of course there is the ability to inspire in research, but there is also a need for universities to stop pro- 1 moting people simply on the masses of sometimes boring or sometimes redundant publications that they put out. The weight of papers they produce has no particular bearing on the salary they should receive. It is time that a value better than slighting was put on the work of those who have a genius for teaching and inspiring students.

I still think there is a role for teaching in universities as well as a role for research. I think that somehow or other we can come back to this position. I realise there is a problem here. Today a professor of engineering who has a capacity to teach the fundamentals over a wide field will very quickly find that a student who is not a graduate but who specialises in some new direction goes way beyond him in the salar}' that he receives. But that does not alter the fact that his teaching inspiration, even if he is not at that time engaged in research to try to keep up with everyone else in all of these directions, is of high value. We need to evaluate rather differently some of these questions of research.

The Canberra College of Advanced Education and some other colleges of advanced education, including the college at Hobart, are apparently developing what would normally be called teachers colleges, schools of teaching or schools of education. I hope that the Canberra College of Advanced Education will develop a full teachers college in conjunction with a Faculty of Education at the Australian National University which ought to be developing. The Commonwealth has to take a fresh approach to this aspect of tertiary education. I refer here to the training of teachers. Too often we have tried to get from the States teachers for Papua and New Guinea and for the Northern Territory. Of course, we get teachers from New South Wales for the Australian Capital Territory. We should try to attract to training institutions within the Canberra College of Advanced Education, and I hope to a Faculty of Education at the Australian National University, candidates for teacher training who would serve in the Commonwealth Territories - to serve in Papua and New Guinea in that country's last gallop towards independence, when education will become even more important. If, in the course of time, these teachers are phased out of the Territories, as they will be in Papua and New Guinea, 1 have no doubt that the demand for teachers in the States is so great that they would not have any problem in finding employment. 1 think that the Commonwealth, which now has a large number of children under its authority in Papua and New Guinea. Canberra and elsewhere, should be contributing to a greater extent to the training of teachers than it has done hitherto. I hope that my observations will not be taken as meaning that I do not congratulate the Minister on introducing these 2 Bills. I think they are necessary and that they are making necessary adjustments. They perhaps do not set the Thames on fire but they are part of the mechinery of good government. 1 believe the Commonwealth has developed a rather piecemeal approach in education. We need a much more systematic approach to education.







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