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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 2847

Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley) - I rise tonight to touch on a couple of matters. The first of these is the necessity for government - I do not care whether it is Federal or State - to make a decision as to whether or not there is to be a university or a college of advanced education in the western suburbs of Sydney. Are you right?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member has the right to speak if he wishes to. If he does not want to, he may sit down.

Mr ARMITAGE - I was just waiting.

Mr SPEAKER - With all due respect, if the honourable member is concerned about conversation he should have a look at his performance today.

Mr ARMITAGE - I abide by your suggestion, Sir. I think the most important thing here is to look at what has been going on out in the western suburbs in relation to the need for tertiary education in those areas. I point out that this area contains the largest number of young people of any area in the whole of New South Wales. Therefore, the demand for tertiary education facilities will be greater than in any other part of the State in the future. Over the years I have been approached by a number of local organisations. I have carried out a campaign in this House for the last 2i years on this issue. I have brought the matter before various government departments, Federal and State. I have brought it before various Ministers, Federal and State. But in each instance I found that each one passed the buck over to the other. If one goes to the Federal Ministry of Education and Science one finds that it says it is an issue for the State. If one goes to the State Department one finds that, until they have the finance or until they have inquired more fully into the issue, it is a matter for the Federal Government to determine.

It has now reached the stage where there is a very great deal of feeling on this particular issue right throughout the area. The latest approach made to me was from the Parramatta District Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, urging that consideration should be given on an urgent basis to the establishment of a university or college of advanced education in the western suburbs of Sydney. I believe that the demands of the area, in respect of young people growing up, will ensure that this must occur. This educational facility must be placed in an area that is close to the railway. It must be placed in an area which will serve young people coming down from Katoomba in the west or from areas such as Auburn or even further east. I suggest that it should be sited either in the Parramatta area or at Werrington near Penrith where I understand land has been set aside for either a teachers college or a college of advanced education.

I would like the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to look at this matter urgently. I believe that as this Parliament provides the greater part of the finance necessary for such a project this Parliament should influence where that project is established. As I have said, it is commonsense that it should not be placed, for example, out at Campbelltown which is well away from any real centre. The project should be placed somewhere near a railhead to serve those people coming from as far as Katoomba in the west and the Auburn side of Parramatta in the east. In other words, it should not be placed, as is the Macquarie University, well away from rail transport. Such siting means that people have to use motor transport in order to attend that institution. If regard is not paid to the proper siting of the institution people from more affluent areas will be benefited. It should be borne in mind that the great body of young people coming from the areas I have mentioned - areas such as Auburn - would not have a great deal of finance behind them. They would mostly be on scholarships and therefore would not be able to afford high transport costs. Therefore I ask the Minister for Education and Science to have a very good look at this issue. I ask him to initiate the necessary discussions with the New South Wales Government to ensure that a university or college of advanced education for the western suburbs will be placed somewhere near a rail centre so that students who cannot afford high transport costs can use that mode of transport. Students, about who I am speaking of necessity come from non-affluent areas. ,

While I am on my feet I would like to deal also with another matter. It arises from the recent decision of the Church of England to undertake a drive on poverty. A group of people examining this subject recently visited the area of Mount Druitt. Unfortunately one of the newspapers labelled the Mount Druitt area by displaying the headline: 'Whitlam to visit slums'. This caused a great deal of resentment right throughout the area. The fact is that the Mount Druitt area is the youngest area in the State. The average age, it is said, is about 8 years. It is an area in which many young people are trying to bring up big families. The last thing in the world they want to happen is for the area to be called backward, or an area suffering from great problems. As the residents of the area put it, if you give a dog bad names it sticks to it.

I checked with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and I am assured by him and his staff that when the Archbishop made the request that members of this Parliament should visit various areas of poverty the Leader of the Opposition rang up and accepted that request. However, the first he knew that Mount Druitt was to be visited was when he heard it over the news media. I make this point: Of course there are areas of poverty in Mount Druitt as there are in every other area of ;he State. Of course there are some invalid pensioners and deserted wives in the Mount Druitt area. But they would be only a very small proportion of the great body of this category of people who exist right throughout New South Wales and the Commonwealth. To suggest that this is an area of extreme poverty and a problem area or, as one newspaper suggested, a slum area creates a great deal of resentment amongst the people living there, and myself as their representative.

I would like to quote a few headings that appeared in local newspapers. One was: 'Tired of being rubbished'. Another was: 'Meeting condemns continued maligning of Mount Druitt people'. A further heading was: 'Mount Druitt residents angry - district called "slum"'. This type of thing has to be stopped. The facts are mat the Mount Druitt people are hard working people. They work harder for heir organisations than most people from affluent areas do. If one goes to parents and citizens association meetings one finds these meetings attended by more people than would be at similar meetings in more affluent areas.

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