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Thursday, 21 September 1972
Page: 1745

Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - Can the Minister for Education and Science indicate the extent to which applications have been received for the Commonwealth Teaching Service both in the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory? On what grounds will members of the Service be promoted, and will those grounds be basically the same as in the States?

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I am very glad to be able to say, and I am sure the honourable member will be pleased to know, that from the recent advertisements for teachers to be appointed to positions from the beginning of the next school year 600 applications have been received for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Basically, there are about 350 positions to be filled, including 150 in the Northern Territory, and of the applicants who have been interviewed so far two for one have indicated a preference for service in the Northern Territory. I think that this is a particularly pleasing aspect, especially since the Commonwealth's policy is not one which involves the bonding of teachers.

The Bill spelt out in some detail the grounds for promotion of teachers. Basically it depends on the efficiency and the merit of a teacher as a teacher - the contribution which he can make in the class situation. This was basically the position until recently - although the Commonwealth spelt it out in more detail in the Bill - in all States. An attempt is being made in Western Australia to legislate that a teacher is a better teacher merely because he is a member of a union. I should like to read the clause of the Bill concerned. It states:

The efficiency of any eligible applicant who is a member of the union is superior to the efficiency of any applicant who is not a member of the union.

Union traditions are in the best Australian tradition but for the Western Australians to claim that a teacher is a better teacher than another teacher because he is a member of a union and the other is not is plain nonsense. The stupidity of this legislation is further emphasised by the conscientious objection clause. A conscientious objector to being a member of the union can still be allowed to teach and perhaps be promoted in Western Australia if he pays the equivalent of the union fees direct to the Minister. Under the Bill the Minister is immediately entitled to pay those fees to the union.

Mr Armitage - I rise to order. Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to page 16 of 'Business and Procedures of the House of Representatives' where it is stated:

If it is necessary for a long answer to be given, the proper procedure is for the Minister to indicate that at the end of question time he will seek leave to make a statement.

I ask you, Mr Speaker, to rule, in accordance with the procedures of this Parliament, that this Minister, who offends more than any other, should immediately seek leave to make a statement after question time.

Mr SPEAKER - At this stage I do not think that the question of the long answer is quite relevant. I suggest that, if the Minister proposes to make a prolonged answer to this question, he should take the course of making a statement after question time.

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) -The conscientious objection clause in this particular Bill will allow a teacher still to teach and be promoted if he pays the equivalent of the union fees direct to the Minister. The Western Australian Minister will establish a fund and will then pay the money out of that fund back to the union. So the conscientious objection clause is sheer nonsense. This kind of legislation shows a complete and utter disregard for education and for educational equality in the classroom situation. It also shows, among the Labor Party members, an attachment to outworn myths.

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