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Wednesday, 3 November 1971
Page: 2989

Mr KENNEDY (Bendigo) (2:11 AM) I wish to raise some matters concerning teachers colleges in country areas in Victoria. I am concerned about the display of crude mentality which has concentrated government services in the metropolis in Victoria. In particlar, I want to call upon the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to intervene and rectify the imbalance which has occurred in the way in which Commonwealth money is being distributed to the teachers colleges in Victoria, In a nutshell my case is that almost $15m in Commonwealth money will be allocated in Victoria between 1967 and 1973. It is my belief that not one cent of that money will bc allocated to teachers colleges in country areas - in particular, the three teachers colleges at Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo. I think that is a very serious situation indeed. I have taken it very seriously. I am very concerned about it.

Between 1967 and 1973 a total of $14,850,000 in Commonwealth money will be allocated for capital expenditure on teachers colleges. That includes 85,350.000 for the 1967-1970 triennium and $9,500,000 for the 1970-1973 triennium. That is Victoria's share of a total allocation of $54m by the Commonwealth for teachers colleges. I have taken those figures from the pages 4 and 5 of the Senate Hansard of 6th September of the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, which is now investigating teacher education. An examination of a breakdown of the figures over the period of the 2 trienniums shows that the Commonwealth money is being misused for the concentration of services in the metropolis. I am not by any means saying that there is not a problem in the metropolis. What I am worried about is the disproportion in the distribution between the metropolis and country areas.

Between 1967 and 1973 in Melbourne the Technical Teachers College will receive $ 1.95m; the Secondary Teachers College will receive $2.5m; Coburg

Teachers College will receive Sim; Burwood Teachers College will receive SI. 6m; Monash Teachers College will receive $1.9m; Melbourne Teachers College will receive S2.35m and Frankston Teachers College will receive SI. 5m. There is also a contingency that Latrobe Teachers College may receive SI. 5m, but I understand that there is some uncertainty about that. An amount of $550,000 has been set aside for one of the 3 teachers colleges in Bendigo, Ballarat or Geelong. My understanding is that the plan for the provincial teachers college has been scrapped, in other words, the metropolitan teachers colleges have been allocated $14,300,000 or 96 per cent of all the Commonwealth funds while the amount set aside for the country teachers colleges, which I do not believe will be used, is only $550,000 or less than 4 per cent of all the Commonwealth funds allocated between 1967 and 1973. Yet probably 230 per cent of all primary studentship holders in Victoria are in country colleges. It is still a fact that in Victoria, despite the centralist policies of the Victorian Government, 1 in every 3 people lives outside the metropolitan area. Yet we have this tremendous imbalance in the allocation of Commonwealth funds. I am strongly opposed to this because I do not believe that Commonwealth money should be used for the over-concentration of services in the metropolitan areas; I believe that it should be used with the distinct objective of building up country centres.

Mr Grassby - That is a wonderful objective.

Mr KENNEDY - lt is, but it is not practiced. What will be the effects on the 3 country colleges in Victoria to which I have referred? If we consider the Bendigo Teachers College we will be aware of the effect that lack of Commonwealth money will have on overcrowding. That college was established towards the end of the 1950s to cater for a student population of 300. This year it has 430 students, next year it is likely to have about 540 students, and according to a report in the local Bendigo 'Advertiser' the Victorian Minister for Education indicated recently that ultimately the objective is a population of 1,600 or more students. Obviously while either Commonwealth Government or State Government money is not being spent for this purpose the Bendigo Teachers College will suffer some very serious overcrowding. But there is more involved than this.

The problem affecting the 3 country colleges is that science and library facilities at present are little better than those in the average government high school, and indeed they are inferior to those in some private schools which have benefited from the largesse of this Government. In place of lecture rooms these colleges are still relying principally on classrooms. Members of the staff are crowded into an already overcrowded working space, and buildings are rambling single storey bungalows. Obviously the premises were designed for short term use, as is the custom so often in Victoria. About all that the Victorian Government can offer at present is the threat that some temporary accommodation will be brought into use at Bendigo to cater for the increase in the student population.

What we have is a situation where the teachers colleges are expected in the eyes of the community and the Education Department to be more and more tertiary institutions, yet their facilities do not meet the requirements of those institutions. What this will mean in the long run will be even more serious because when the teachers colleges in Victoria finally break away from the Education Department and are given some measure of autonomy, which is inevitable ultimately, they will be in the position where they are not only competing, one with the other, but also with colleges of advanced education and universities.

Mr Grassby - They might be part of universities.

Mr KENNEDY - That may be, but at present one does not know. The staff and the students will be attracted to those colleges and institutions which have the best facilities. It is obvious that unless this imbalance is rectified the teachers colleges in the country areas of Victoria will be in a second best position by comparison with other tertiary institutions in Victoria. Obviously people who have the qualifications to lecture at tertiary institutions, whether they are colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges or universities, will be attracted to those institutions where they have the best facilities for professional satisfaction. Those conditions will not br provided in country teachers colleges unless the Commonwealth Government intervenes and sends the Victorian Minister for Education or the Victorian Premier back to the planning room and back to the drawing board with a direction to produce a blueprint for teachers college education in Victoria which will eliminate this blatant discrimination against country areas. But of course there is more to it than just that. There is more to it than the educational effect this situation has on students in provincial areas. The teachers college is a fundamental government service. It is essential that those government services provided in provincial areas should be at least equal to those provided in metropolitan areas. A variety of reasons has been given for what I believe to be discrimination against provincial teachers colleges. One is that the Fourth University Committee has not yet reported in Victoria. However, this to me is a specious argument. If the Fourth University Committee is to report in a way that will affect teachers colleges this will affect metropolitan teachers colleges too. They have had plans for very substantial increases in their buildings and facilities.

The peculiar thing is that the only colleges apparently to be affected by this unknown university report are the country colleges. Furthermore, the discrimination is not something new. It is something that has applied in the 1967-70 triennium as well. In the case of Bendigo there is also the question of the adequacy of the size of the college grounds at Bendigo Teachers College. I believe that these are quite adequate. They are certainly more adequate than the grounds at teachers colleges which are receiving substantial Commonwealth money. Finally I repeat that I believe this to be a blatant case of discrimination against provincial teachers colleges. I call for Government action to rectify this imbalance.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned all 2.21 a.m. (Thursday)

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