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Thursday, 28 August 1980
Page: 912

Mr FIFE (Farrer) (Minister for Education) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I remind honourable members that on 21 August I tabled in the Parliament the report of the Schools Commission on its recommendations for the calendar year 1981 which responded to the Government's guidelines for financial assistance for schools in the States and the Northern Territory. The Government has accepted the Commission's financial recommendations for 1981 with one modification to accommodate approval of a subsequent notification of a request from New South Wales to transfer some $6. 5m of its funds for government schools from its capital to general recurrent allocations. The Commonwealth has permitted the transfer of funds between these programs and the New South Wales Government has taken advantage of these arrangements in recent years and again for 1 98 1 .

This Bill will implement the Government's decisions on the approved recommendations of the Schools Commission. The implementation of this program will mean that the base level of funds for 1981 for all schools in the States and Northern Territory will increase by 3.2 per cent in real terms. All individual major recurrent and capital programs will be at least maintained in real terms in 1981 and some will be increased. Funds for migrant and multicultural education for all schools will be increased in line with the recommendations of the Galbally Committee and general recurrent funds for all non-government schools will be increased to maintain the linkage with increases in average standard per pupil costs in government schools. Per capita grants for the lowest resource non-government schools, in level 6, will be increased by one percentage point to bring them to 35 per cent of government schools standard costs for primary students and to 33 per cent for secondary students, representing an estimated additional $11 and $19, respectively, per student in March 1980 prices.

Included amongst the approved recommendations is a change in the basis of allocating government schools' general recurrent funds to a uniform per capita rate across the primary and secondary sectors; previously, a differential rate applied for primary and secondary enrolments in government schools. This change is consistent with the spirit of general recurrent funding and helps overcome any inequities arising from differences in the structures of primary and secondary education in the States and Territories where some have five years of secondary education and others have six years.

The Bill provides for the continuation of the general resources and specific purpose programs for schools in the States and the Northern Territory. It follows the same format and provides for the implementation of the programs in 1981 in substantially the same terms as the existing legislation for 1980. The Bill includes provision for Sim, additional to the guidelines for 1981, for the provision of services to facilitate the integration of some 300 handicapped children in normal schools, as announced by me in the Parliament on 20 August. These funds will be additional to the $ 17.9m in December 1979 prices, approved under the special education programs administered by the Schools Commission. Parts II and III of the Bill provide for government schools programs and non-government schools programs respectively. Part IV provides for the joint government and non-government schools programs, including the new program for handicapped children, mentioned earlier. On the recommendation of the Commission, there has been a broadening of the provisions for the Schools Exchange and Travel

Scheme, referred to in the Bill as temporary transfer of teachers, to include interchanges with New Zealand and with industry and commerce.

Allocations of grants for 1981 for the various programs, for the States and the Northern Territory, are detailed in Schedules 1 to 10 of the Bill. Capital grants are adjusted to May 1980 prices and recurrent grants to March 1980 prices, except for the non-government schools general recurrent and migrant education programs which include some allowance for estimated future cost increases. The estimated cost of the 1981 programs, as now supplemented, is $782. 2m. The grants will be adjusted in subsequent legislation for further cost movements. Grants for the current programs for calendar year 1980 are also adjusted under Part VI and Schedule 1 1 of this Bill, in accordance with government policy. The salary and wage components of recurrent grants are adjusted to March 1980 prices. In addition, the nongovernment per capita and migrant education grants, in accordance with established practice, include provision for cost increases to the end of 1980. The additional cost of these adjustments is $2 1.9m. Finalisation of the adjustment of 1980 grants will also be effected in legislation to be introduced during the autumn 1981 sitting of the Parliament. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.

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