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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 2078

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! If there is not a statement the honourable member is not in order in talking about it. He must confine himself to the Bill.

Mr KENNEDY - This is part of my simplicity. I 'thought that the Minister, being a capable Minister at drawing up a Bill like this, may have been able to put it in some part which in my quick perusal of the speech I may have overlooked. But I am grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker, to have your assistance to learn that it is not in fact in the Bill. Another clause deals with the amount of assistance to private schools regardless of their need. It states that the assistance is to be based on an assessment of 40 per cent of the recurrent costs of educating a child in a government school. On whose evidence is the 40 per cent to be worked out? I want to know from the Minister how he comes to the conclusion that the secondary costs of educating pupils in a government school are approximately $300 and those of educating a child in primary school are $300. I want all the exact data on which this assessment is worked out, because my belief is that in fact the Minister has inflated the figures as to what the actual costs of educating a child in a government school are. In fact he has taken all of the recurrent costs of educating a child in a government school even though the child at a private school may be deriving some benefit from the very same costs. He has taken the whole lot and be has assessed these as being part of the contribution. For example, I believe that he has also included even the costs of teachers colleges. In my opinion this is ridiculous because teachers colleges are there to serve both the private school system and the State school system. In those teachers colleges which have been built with Commonwealth funds recently there has been a direct stipulation that a number of positions will be reserved for teachers who are going into the private education system or teachers who are not bonded.

What clause 13 means as it stands at the present moment is that for many of the very wealthy private schools this will provide another fillip by which they can increase their standards over the standards enjoyed by the children at the least wealthy private schools and those children who are attending government schools. This is what I refer to as being so discriminatory about what the Minister does in education. He is pretending that education is conducted in a vacuum. It is not. Education in Australia takes place in a very competitive context, and every dollar of assistance that is provided to one school as opposed to another gives a very distinct advantage to the child who goes to that school over the other. This is of course what will happen. Let us just think about how well accommodated, well staffed, well equipped and well endowed schools such as Sydney Grammar School, Melbourne Grammar School, Geelong Grammar School, Xavier College and some of the other wealthier schools are already and how well placed their children are to get the maximum benefit out of the nation's education resources. The Minister will pour even more into them. In relation to clause 13, I find it absolutely obnoxious and repugnant that grants of such a diamension are being provided to some private schools.

It is on record by the principal of Sydney Grammar School, for example, that his school will use the State aid grants it receives over the next 5 years to subsidise high level fees for children of the rich who can afford to go to that school. I find that personally obnoxious when there are poor independent and government schools crying out for basic facilities. That is a public statement by a member of the old school network to which the Minister belongs that the money is to be used to subsidise fee reductions and an attempt to hold the line against fee increases. It is colossal - $1.5m for Sydney Grammar School over 5 years. How does the Minister justify that. It is calculated on the basis of $210 for every secondary school pupil provided for in clause 13 and SI 25 for every primary school pupil. It is not in the schedules. They simply do not want it. How does the Minister justify giving that quantity of money? It would rebuild an entire school in my electorate. Some of the schools in my electorate are very decayed and antiquated and that money would rebuild one of them from the base up.

Let us have a look at a few other schools, including Melbourne Grammar School, the old alma mater of the Minister, at which he recently opened - can you guess - yet another science block. Melbourne Grammar School is to get $1.5m over a 5-year period. Some men drive their families out into the woodlands at the weekend. Some play golf, some play football. The Minister opens science blocks. Kings School is to get Si. 5m over 5 years. What will it use that for? It is rolling in money. Brisbane Grammar School is to receive $1.2m. What will it use it for? Geelong Grammar School is to receive $840,000. Yet the Minister has the cheek to say that there are no rich schools and that the Labor Party is unjust in calling for the money to be redirected on the basis of need. We say that because grants of those denominations are being given out.

I would like to refer to again to the schedules at the end of the Bill. They do not give us any indication of the basis on which assistance will be given. The needs of the 2 private sectors are vastly different. I have had some assessments made of the needs and the available funds of the Catholic and non-Catholic private schools in Australia. Over a 5-year period the Catholic schools want to spend $711 a pupil in recurrent expenditure. The other private schools want to spend $2,210 a pupil over the same period, or 3 times as much. Let us look to see what they have available. The Catholic schools have only 72 per cent of the funds which they require whereas the others have 90 per cent available. The Catholic schools are in need of 28 per cent of their desirable funds and they can get it only from the Commonwealth and State governments. The other private schools have a requirement of only 10 per cent. There are colossal differences like that.

In the capital area the Catholic schools want to spend only $312 a pupil over a 5- year period whereas the non-Catholic schools want to spend S 1 ,084 a pupil. There is a terrific difference which is not accounted for simply by the fact that the teachers in the Catholic schools are people who have taken a vocation. It is more than that. They are catering for the lower income section as a whole and accordingly they pitch their standards lower. Obviously they are people whose need is greater and who therefore require assistance on a different scale. But there is nothing in the Bill concerning need. Perhaps the Minister will pop up now and make a statement.

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