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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1999

Mr MARTIN (Banks) - I should like to read from a speech made in this House on 7th March 1972 by the spokesman for the Australian Labor Party on education, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). He said:

.   . it is not common sense to make the same kind of grant to a greater public school with fees of more than $1,000 a year as is made to a poorer private school which has much lower fees which may have many migrant children who need to be taught English and which has all sorts of difficulties and disabilities which the more privileged schools do not have.

The Australian Labor Party believes in those sentiments. I believe in those sentiments. There has been a grave distortion of fact by Government supporters as to what is the policy of the Labor Party. 1 want to put the record straight on this issue. The policy of the Labor Party towards education is quite clear, lt is set out not only in the decisions which were taken at the Launceston conference of the Australian Labor Party in 1971 but also in a publication which will be available shortly for all to read. It is headed 'Education - It's Time'.

It certainly is time; it is time for a new deal in education for all, on the basis of need. 1 should like to cite some figures relating to certain schools in my electorate. They happen to be diocesan, poorer Catholic schools. Mount St Joseph's, Milperra, is a school which caters for 638 pupils. There are 14 lay teachers and 12 nuns at the school. The fees for the first and second forms are $32 a term, and, for the third and fourth forms $44 a term. These fees are paid by the poorer parents who live in my electorate. I know them; they can ill afford them. They are not getting justice from this Government. They will get justice from a Labor government because that is our policy. Certainly, that school recently has had granted to it approximately $39,000 towards the cost of a library. But that library will cost more than $39,000 and where is that money coming from? lt can come from only one source, and that is from the pockets of the parents who cai ill afford to pay it.

My children attend another school in my electorate. It is an ordinary diocesan school and I would be paid the highest salary - 1 admit it - of all the parents who have children attending that school. That school has 780 pupils, 21 lay teachers and 7 brothers. The fees for primary pupils in 5th and 6th classes are $19 a term, and for secondary pupils $52 a term. The poorer people in my area - they form the bulk of my electorate because it is a poor, working class area - must bear the cost not only of the school buildings but also of the salaries of the lay teachers who certainly are dedicated people. At this stage, they receive a salary which is only 90 per cent of the State equivalent. They are nearly all qualified or close to qualification. That they are prepared to accept a lower salary and still achieve terrific results from their pupils only highlights their dedication. Who is bearing th?_ cost of running the school? It is not this Government. This Government has contributed a measly sum to the cost of that school and its buildings. The cost of those buildings, which has been borne by the poorer section of the community in my electorate, is close to $500,000. This money did not come from the pockets of the Commonwealth or the State governments; it came from the pockets of the people living in my electorate who have children attending this school. Ail that we are seeking is justice fo: that section of the community.

The same situation applies to the primary convent schools in my area. Both St Luke's at Revesby and St Christopher's at Panania employ a high number of lay teachers for which the poorer section of the community, which is my electorate, are paying. All we are seeking is justice for all, but this Government is not providing justice for all. This Government's justice favours what could be called the wealthier section of the community. 1 once heard the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) say - 1 think I am not quoting him out of context - that St Peter's, Adelaide, is open to all. But who can qualify to go to St Peter's, Adelaide? St Peters receives assistance which it honestly does not deserve. The same applies to the Sydney schools of Riverview, St Joseph's College, Scots College and Kings and other similar schools. There is no justice in the application of this Government's education policy but there will be justice when the Australian Labor Party is elected to office come 25th November or whichever date the Government chooses.

The same situation applies in the State school system in my State. I have inspected some of the poorer State schools - there are many poor ones - such as Kogarah High School. That school is not in my electorate.

Mr Reynolds - It is well represented.

Mr MARTIN - I agree. It is well represented by the honourable member for Barton, but the honourable member cannot get the funds necessary to bring that school to a decent standard. It is an absolute disgrace to see the conditions that exist at Kogarah High School. Most of the rooms do not even have any electricity connected to them. How the Government can expect pupils to study in schools like that is beyond my comprehension. That same situation does not apply in the wealthier schools. It does not apply in the schools of the more privileged. There must be justice not only in the independent schools which need justice and help; justice must also be meted out in the area of those state schools, which are also in need of help.

I have also inspected the infants school at Beverly Hills. That school had an active Parents and Citizens Association which raised over $1,000 on a project. The association applied to the New South Wales Minister for Education for permission to use the money to connect electricity to some of the schoolrooms which did not have electricity. Permission was refused. Those schools are the types of schools which should be assisted, not the wealthier schools, the schools of privilege. If we are to have justice, let us have it. The Australian Labor Party will give justice to all the people of Australia when it gains office on 25th November.

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