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Thursday, 7 October 1971
Page: 2113

Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - I will use this opportunity tonight to attack the Government for its action in perpetuating and, indeed, worsening the inequality of opportunity in education in this country. I shall show once more that the Government in this sphere, as in many others, helps those who least need help. Firstly, there is the question of university finance, and to my mind this has to be kept in proportion. As I am about to attack the expenditure on universities may I say that I was at the University of Sydney for 11 years, becoming a triple graduate, and I was on the full time staff for 2 years. To my mind there are now excessive numbers of graduates and graduands, especially in the faculties of Arts, Science and Economics. They tend to drift into teaching because there is no alternative. For that reason I am not sure that many of them will make good teachers. The Department of Education and Science, in conjunction with the Department of Labour and National Service, should investigate the need for graduates from different faculties in greater detail. I would not prevent people from enrolling but they should be warned when they do enrol about what kind of job opportunities will be available.

Let us look at the estimates for the Department. The Commonwealth subsidy for universities is, in part, $29. 13m for the Australian National University, $6m for the Commonwealth postgraduate awards and $25.8m for Commonwealth university scholarships, a total of over $60m out of a total of approximately $102m for all education. The total expenditure on all educational services in the Commonwealth Territories - that is the Australian Capita] Territory and the Northern Territory - is less than $18m compared with $29. 13m plus student scholarship payments for the Australian National University alone. What we are doing is subsidising the relatively well off at a cost to the average member of the community. The report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, commonly known as the Martin report, published figures relating to the socio-economic class origin of university students. A table in the report shows that of the school leavers whose fathers were in the category of unskilled or semi-skilled, and who totalled 33 per cent of the fathers of all male school leavers, only 1.5 per cent entered university. In contrast, only 2 per cent of the fathers of male school leavers were classified as university professional, but 35.9 per cent of their sons entered university. W. C. Radford, in an Australian Council of Educational Research publication, commented: it is highly improbable that less than 2 per cent of sons and less than 1 per sent of daughters of unskilled and semi-skilled fathers have the ability to do university work, as against 36 per cent of the sons of university professional fathers and 24 per cent of the daughters of university professional fathers, or 30 per asnt of sons and 14 per cent of daughters of thos* engaged in higher administration.

If we break down these figures to the different kinds of tertiary education we find even further discrimination. If we include full time entrants to universities, teachers colleges and technical colleges at that particular time, as before there were 33 per cent of the fathers of male school leavers who were in the classifications of unskilled or semi-skilled. Of their school leaver sons, 4.4 per cent entered teritiary institutions where they represented 1 3 per cent of all male entrants to such institutions. Of these sons, 30 per cent entered technical colleges, 36 per cent entered teachers colleges and 24 per cent entered universities. As a contrast, only 2 per cent of the fathers were classified as university professional. Of their sons, 44.8 per cent entered tertiary institutions where they represented 8 per cent of all entrants. Of these sons, 13 per cent entered technical colleges, 7 per cent entered teachers colleges and 80 per cent entered universities.

Further along we find that this preference for the relatively well off gets worse. Not only has it been bad; now it is getting worse. In the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory it is revealed that payments to the New South Wales Department of Education for both primary and secondary educational services will rise during the current year by 8.53 per cent while assistance for the so-called independent schools will rise by 22.7 per cent. The estimates for the Northern Territory show that the expenditure this financial year will rise by 42.7 per cent for independent schools while the total increase in the cost of all educational services, including independent schools, will increase by only 8.5 per cent. This means that the increase in expenditure on education for the nonindependent schools will rise by much less than 8.5 per cent and that there will be 5 times as great an increase for the independent schools as for the state educational systems.

I do not think we can be surprised about this after looking at the behaviour of Liberal Party Ministers so far as their children are concerned. We find that 0.0 per cent of the children of members of the Ministry who attended secondary schools attended state schools, 8 per cent attended Catholic schools and 92 per cent attended private non-Catholic schools. Comparing this with Libera] backbenchers we find that 10.5 per cent of their children attended state secondary schools, 14.7 per cent attended Catholic secondary schools and only 74.8 per cent attended private nonCatholic schools. In the case of the Australian Labor Party, we had 68.7 per cent of our children attending state schools, 23.3 per cent attending Catholic schools and only 8 per cent attending private nonCatholic schools. When we compare this with the average for Australia we find that 74.4 per cent of secondary students attended state secondary schools, 17.1 per cent attended Catholic schools and 8.5 per cent attended private non-Catholic schools. I am quoting these figures from 'Education Newsletter, No. 4', of the National Union of Australian University Students. This document went on to state:

The Cabinet and the Liberal Party members just don't send their children to State Secondary. Schools.

Further on it stated:

.   . a great deal of doubt should be cast on the representativeness of Government members when educational matters are being debated.It becomes far more understandable that over the past decade they have denied the existence of a crisis in State education. Hardly any have any experience of the State system either through their own education or that of their children.

The figures I have quoted are from some 2 or 3 years ago and with the Howsons, the Fairbairns and the Frasers in the Ministry they would be even worse now, if that were possible. However since they have no children in State schools it is not possible. Through increased taxation deductions the recent Budget gives a further $6.25m to parents of children at the expensive private schools. We witnessed a rather pathetic attempt by this anachronism of the 1970s, the present Minister for Education and Science, to justify this concession on the basis of helping the allegedly poor graziers to send their children to Geelong Grammar School.

I conclude on what to my mind is an important point, namely, that there are those in the community - they are usually the people on the Government side - who say: 'Keep politics out of education'. My answer is that education and equal opportunity are what politics in this country are all about. As long as the conservatives are kept in power the average Australian will have little opportunity for his children to get a decent education. As long as politics are kept out of education those who want to give the taxpayers' money to Geelong Grammar, Kings School and the graziers will be helped.

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