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Wednesday, 14 March 1973
Page: 595

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - I thank the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) for drawing my attention to the competence of the Government of New South Wales which alone has this problem. I would like the honourable gentleman to notice the statistics he himself has used. He spoke of 1,000 teachers, then 260 married women, another 260 married women and another 40 married women, 300 of whom, apparently would not go and teach anywhere. I do not know of any Australian government which regards a married woman who may have training as a teacher but who will not regard herself as under an obligation to go and move anywhere, as somebody whom the government has an obligation to employ other than casually. When the New South Wales Minister for Education came to see me and there was a wide ranging discussion he made no request whatever for money for unemployed teachers. The Commonwealth Government has granted many millions of dollars to the State of New South Wales for the unemployed. Other States have had no difficulty apparently in applying this to teachers but apparently this has not been done by the Government of New South Wales. I am not prepared to vouch that it has not spent any of its unemployment grants from the Commonwealth on unemployed teachers but I understand that of the $13m that was given to Victoria for unemployment an amount of $5m was spent in one way or another on education.

As to the question of these teachers, the honourable gentleman apparently knows the correspondence that has been submitted to me?

Mr MacKellar - I do not.

Mr BEAZLEY - If Mr Willis had released it to you I would be prepared to make it public but as it is I am not. His letters and the enclosures did not mention the subject of unemployment of teachers. There are items in the series which I will mention.

Mr MacKellar - I was quoting-

Mr BEAZLEY - You will listen to me for a change. There are items in the series which I will mention which spoke for instance of training for 75 teachers for children with disabilities, training for so many teachers to be librarians. Every State could make the same recurring request. In my answer to the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) I stressed that the request did not lock off claims for anything special to New South Wales. I have always said that if there was a specific request about unemployed teachers then I would sponsor that request with the Prime Minister but if a request comes couched in, terms that every other State might equally make a just claim upon - the training of teachers for children suffering from disabilities - then that is clearly a matter that ought to go to the Interim Schools Committee which is recommending to the Commonwealth Government the grants that it should make in &11 these categories. Nowhere does Mr Willis' correspondence mention the subject of unemployed teachers.

Mr MacKellar - Will you make available the correspondence?

Mr BEAZLEY - No, I am not free to make Mr Willis's corespondence available.

Mr MacKellar - You are quoting from it.

Mr BEAZLEY - I am not quoting from it. I am giving a general indication of the nature of some of the requests that were made to show that they relate to the question of training specialist teachers, and other recurrent requests which any State could make. It seems to me to be clear that other States have used unemployment grants from the Commonwealth in relation to education. It is far from clear that New South Wales has done so. But the amount of money that was granted to New South Wales for unemployment relief is far in excess of $4.47m. If other States have found no difficulty in this field I do not know why New South Wales has, especially as unemployment is falling spectacularly. Whatever claims there are on the fund, I think it might be possible for New South Wales to use unemployment grants in the field of education. I do not know whether New South Wales wants to do it that way or whether it requires special permission. I am not prejudging the Government of New South Wales but the honourable gentleman has spoken of 1,000 unemployed and he mentioned 560 married women among them.

Mr MacKellar - I will read out all the figures if you like.

Mr BEAZLEY - That does not matter. The question of the employment of married women teachers is not an obligation that any State government takes on itself, especially if they are not free to move.

Mr MacKellar - There are hundreds of teachers there waiting to be employed.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The honourable member has made his speech. I suggest that he listen to the Minister's reply and ceases his continual cross-talking, otherwise I will be forced to take some action.

Mr BEAZLEY - The Commonwealth cannot be held responsible for the recruitment policies of the New South Wales Department of Education. It may well be justified or alternatively running itself into a major crisis. It has 38,000 teachers in employment and 20,000 in training. It must be just about a world record to have in training more than half as many as it has in employment. It must have made some kind of intelligent forecast of its needs. No other State seems to have recruited on such a grand scale. New South Wales may well be building up a future problem. I do not regard New South Wales uusympathetically. 1 hope that the additional funding which 1 expect in the future will come will meet those needs. But 1 remind the honourable gentleman that the Ministers in New South Wales hailed the late Government's Budget appropriations for education for them and hailed the fact that their deficit of SI 5m was being met by the Commonwealth. My Government is honouring that commitment. I sent to the Minister for Education in New South Wales $3,900,000 which he did not expect to receive. That was for technical education. It is a mystery to me how the honourable gentleman, who voted for the last Budget and hailed it, can now regard that same Budget for education, with very many additional sums added to it, as very inadequate. When he tried to make a case about 1,000 unemployed he began by mentioning 560 married women teachers whom the Government of New South Wales does not regard as being other than casual and not under any obligation to employ but whom the New South Wales Teachers Federation regards the Government as being under an obligation to employ.

A large number of these unemployed teachers appear to be casual teachers. The State Government with great numbers of new trainees does not regard itself as being under any obligation to re-engage them. There have been 3 by-elections in New South Wales, and these kinds of statements played a very large part at that time. I emphasise that New South Wales is the only State to seek Commonweatlh grants for this purpose. I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) saying that if the New South Wales Premier wrote to him demonstrating a genuine need for emergency funds from the Commonwealth for the purpose of employing teachers, I would appreciate his giving sympathetic consideration to the request. The New South Wales Premier has in fact written to the Prime Minister, but instead of seeking assistance with a problem of unemployed teachers he has merely expressed general support for the earlier approach to me by Mr Willis, the New South Wales Minister for Education. In that approach Mr Willis asked for additional funds from the Commonwealth to permit the employment of additional teachers but he did not relate this to the problem of unemployed teachers. The Prime Minister has replied to Sir Robert Askin, I understand, indicating that he does not believe that the Premier has justified his request for special consideration.

I believe that New South Wales can find a solution to its problem of unemployed teachers in the general Commonwealth unemployment funds allotted to New South Wales. That State has had its deficits met. It appears to me to have been extremely well treated by the late Government, which the honourable gentleman supported, when it had its deficits completely cancelled. Instead of blaming me, the honourable gentleman might try to find out why New South Wales is apparently the only government with unemployed teachers.

Mr MacKELLAR(Warringah)- I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Doesthe honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr MacKELLAR - 1 do. During his reply the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) said that I was quoting from correspondence from the Minister for Education in New South Wales. I was not. I was quoting from publicly released news statements.

Mr BEAZLEY(Fremantle - Minister for Education) - I would like to make a personal explanation.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Doesthe Minister claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr BEAZLEY - Yes. I did not say that the honourable gentleman was quoting. I asked him whether he was.

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