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Tuesday, 16 May 1972
Page: 2530

Mr IRWIN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for Education and Science: In its recently announced proposals of financial assistance to Australian schools did the Commonwealth seek to weight grants in favour of independent schools? Is the criticism by some commentators over the week-end justified?

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) -The criticism from some quarters following the announcement by the Prime Minister of weighted Government support for education in favour of independent schools is not justified or accurate. Of the total capital funds that the Prime Minister announced of $2 15m, $167m will be going to Government schools and $48 m to independent schools and that division of the total sum is pretty much the same as the division of enrolments in government schools and independent schools. It is nonsense, therefore, to say that the grant is weighted in favour of independent schools. In addition honourable members should have noted that government schools in the States have access to the very substantial loan funds which the Commonwealth often supports and underwrites while for independent schools, apart from the science laboratories and libraries programmes, the provisions announced last week by the Prime Minister represent basically the only support they will have. I would find it hard to see how a policy under which 40 per cent of the cost of education in government schools is paid in respect of children in independent schools could be regarded as weighting payments in favour of independent schools. It is a payment equal to 40 per cent of the equivalent cost in government schools. I believe that kind of charge could come only from those who basically do not support independent schools as well as government schools. It could come only from those who would seek to establish one education system throughout Australia.

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