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Tuesday, 3 April 1973
Page: 956

Mr OLDMEADOW (HOLT, VICTORIA) - My question to the Minister for Education relates to the Commonwealth secondary school libraries program. A statement concerning the payments made in 1972 was tabled in this House on Thursday last. Can the Minister provide any explanation of why the Victorian Education Department chose to spend only $500,000 of the $2,315,862 made available to it?

Mr BEAZLEY (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Education) - As the honourable member said, I tabled the report on the expenditures in the first year of the triennium under the school libraries provisions of the previous Government. It is a surprising feature that the only authority which has not appropriated all the money available to it is the Victorian Government in respect of government schools. The entire amount of money available for the private schools of Victoria has been appropriated to them. It is, of course, perfectly competent for a State government to spread its money over a triennium in the purchase of books. This normally might be an intelligent action. It is commonly assumed, however, that in getting library buildings up it is wise to get them moving as quickly as possible because of the experience of building costs. It is suspected that possibly the organisation of the State did not allow it to spend the money on the actual physical building materials during the year 1972. It has been a notable feature of some of the States that, when there are grants such as the S46m over the triennium for technical education, they ask for the right to spend the money on sites, which may indicate that they do not have building plans. We want to meet whatever is reasonable about this inability, and in legislation that will be introduced this week there will be generosity about the ending date of a triennium and, if a State finally is not able to spend the money that is being granted to it, perhaps that money can be redirected to a State which can spend it. But I would say that the situation to which the honourable member referred is related to perhaps the inability of the State to mobilise building materials and labour.

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