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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 432

Mr ANTHONY (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(10.32) —I take the opportunity tonight to raise a matter of specific concern to my electorate and to the people of northern New South Wales. I do so because the Government will very shortly have the opportunity to make a decision which could bring this grievance to an end. It is a long standing grievance of my constituents concerning secondary education in Lismore. In 1969, after years of effort, a teachers college was opened in an old school building which was built in 1902. Today there is a new college, the first part of a college of advanced education which has been built. The college is now operating in two centres which are several kilometres apart. Obviously, there are unsatisfactory features and great inefficiencies because of the distance between the centre. There is a need to try to resolve this by meeting the plans that have been drawn up for the second, third and fourth stages of the college.

In northern New South Wales the population is growing rapidly. It is one of the most rapidly growing regions of New South Wales. Unlike other areas where the primary school population is declining, in the northern part of New South Wales it is rapidly increasing. By the year 2000 it is anticipated that the population will rise by another 58 per cent. It is therefore important that a decision be made as soon as possible to try to alleviate the difficulties of the college in meeting the request to fill positions and to be able to participate in the courses that have already been approved, but, because of the inadequacy of facilities and finances, it is not possible to take in as many students as the college would like.

I am indebted to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Senator Ryan, for her advice that the Government expects to receive the recommendation of the Tertiary Education Commission within the next few weeks. The Government will make a decision as a result of those recommendations. In the last year or so the College of Advanced Education has had a high priority but, because of the shortage of funds, moneys have not been allocated to this college. It is hoped that in 1984 moneys will be made available so that the second part of the college can be commenced. I understand the difficulties of finance, but when one realises the growing population, the difficulty of the college, and the very high level of unemployment, which is now approaching 30 per cent in this region, there is a need for public works programs to be undertaken. I cannot think of any stronger justification of the Tertiary Education Commission to make a recommendation. I certainly hope it will, and that the Government will pick up those recommendations and give them support.

The college has become a principal feature of life in northern New South Wales. It has added greatly to the education opportunities and the cultural structure of the region. Because the college is situated so far away from other areas of tertiary education-the nearest is Armidale or Newcastle-I believe it warrants special consideration. At the moment there is a hiatus in that the college has to use an old building and there is a new college two or three kilometres away. It makes it very difficult to maintain the impetus that is needed in college morale. I hope that when the Minister for Education receives the recommendations of the Tertiary Education Commission she will give the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education top priority so that it can continue its programs.