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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 2005

Mr DRURY (Ryan) - I would like firstly to express appreciation as I am sure we are all appreciative, to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and his Department for the trouble they have taken in preparing for our use explanations of the estimates for that Department for 1972-73 in which they have dealt item by item with the whole of the estimates. This is an invaluable help to honourable members in examining the estimates for the current year. The estimates for 1972-73 show progress in all aspects of the Commonwealth's role in education. The departmental report for 1971, which was recently tabled, demonstrated clearly the increasing participation of the Commonwealth in the field of education and science. The increased expenditure proposed for the current financial year will enable continuous improvement in the quality and availability of education throughout Australia. I believe that it is not sufficiently recognised in the community that the Commonwealth provides the major part of the current revenues of the States. Direct expenditure by the Commonwealth on education this financial year will go up by $72m to a total of $426m. In addition to general financial assistance, specific payments to the States for education are estimated to increase this year by $44m to a total of $250m. As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) pointed out, additional payments to the States, including capital grants for school construction, secondary school science laboratories and libraries, technical colleges and teachers colleges, and per capita grants for independent schools, will go up by $30m to an estimated total of $1 12m.

A sum of $1 38m has been allocated to universities and colleges of advanced education. The allocation to the University of Queensland, if I may refer to my own State for a moment, is not as great as had been hoped for in the next triennium. Nevertheless, I understand that every effort will he made to maintain the steady improvement that has been made during the last couple of years. I do not consider it fair or desirable that the University of Queensland should suffer financially in any way because of the development of Griffith

University, even though it is desirable that a second university be developed in Brisbane. At the present time approximately 125,000 students are enrolled at the 15 universities throughout Australia and, on present plans, 18 universities will be functioning by the end of the next triennium, which will mean a substantial increase in overall enrolments. Colleges of advanced education, provided with funds under a system similar to that of the universities, are playing an increasingly important role and, indeed, they are playing a more clearly defined role than hitherto in the field of tertiary education. I do not think that too much emphasis can 'be placed on the importance of research in relation to education. I am very pleased that the Government is proposing to set aside a substantially increased sum of $20m in the 1973- 75 triennium to cover grants for research projects recommended by the Australian Research Grants Committee.

Having regard to Australia's geographical situation and the changing state of the world, I believe there is an urgent need to encourage in this country the study of Asian languages and culture. I support wholeheartedly the Government's proposal to allocate $1.5m over a 5-year period for this purpose. Quite frankly, I personally would have been very happy to support a larger allocation because the major changes in our region mean that we must orient our thinking much more than previously to the countries to the north and north-west of Australia. Another very welcome set of proposals relates to Commonwealth scholarships. The major extension of Commonwealth scholarships at both secondary and tertiary levels will help many families and bring the opportunity for wider and higher education within the reach of many more thousands of students. This is a good thing. I have very much pleasure indeed in supporting the proposed estimates for the Department of Education and Science for the financial year 1972- 73.

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