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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1715

Mr MULDER (Evans) - This Bill seeks authority for the Government to provide an additional $10m for the provision of technical training facilities until 30th June 1974. The existing legislation provides for grants totalling $36m and the purpose of this Bill is to increase that amount by a further $10ra. This sum is mainly to provide for vocational training in various skills required in the Australian workforce. The Government is determined that technical and further education should receive the same consideration as is given to other areas of education. It has decided therefore to establish a commission which will examine the needs of technical and further education, and make recommendations to the Government for financial assistance. This commission will be established as soon as possible and the assistance for technical and further education will be granted after 30th June 1974. The Government wishes to ensure that the additional capital provided is spent on work of an urgent nature and that such work will not be delayed until after 1974. This Bill to provide supplementary grants totalling $10m is an interim measure intended to raise the level of assistance available.

When the Australian Education Council was requested to forward details of the requirements of technical training in Australia it suggested that an amount of $14m was needed. This Government came up with an amount of $10m but it is clear that each State has a capital development program which is lagging behind this schedule. The common problem was that rising building costs were not matched by funds available for technical college buildings, furnishings and equipment. Caught in that situation, each State has been forced to defer building projects. The actual amount spent during 1971-72 was just under $7.5m and the estimate for 1972-73 is just under ยง13m. An amount of $36m has been provided for this specific grant, and it is envisaged that $20m of this will be spent. We are now proposing in this Bill to give an extra $10m. I cannot imagine a State government which is fair saying that the Commonwealth is not providing adequate funds for this. Tonight the Opposition has agreed with the proposal. It is not opposing this Bill and will join with honourable members on this side of the House in supporting it. The present program is intended to assist the States. It is providing buildings and equipment for the training of young men and women undertaking trade and certificate courses in technical colleges, trade colleges and agricultural colleges, and taking part in rural training schemes.

Although in the past the grants have not been used for land and buildings, in this case they will be. The Commonwealth is providing an additional $10m for facilities for technical training. Technical training has great importance for Australia. Much has been said about the training received at pre-school, at primary and secondary levels and at universities. Australia is a young nation. Our progress since World War II has been by no means extraordinary. Recent discoveries and developments indicate that progress in the immediate future is likely to be greater. I have in mind the development of great sources of power, and the discovery of oil and extensive mineral deposits. Methods of agriculture have been improved. Vast areas of previously undeveloped land have been cultivated. AH these factors confirm that Australia is destined to play an important international part in the future, especially in the industrial sphere. Tremendous technological development can be achieved by Australia only with a work force that is adequate in numbers and efficiency for the task ahead. Immigration cannot for much longer be expected to supply great numbers of professional, technical and skilled workers necessary in these fields. Our own educational institutions must provide the necessary training.

The Commonwealth is providing money to increase the technological studies of all students attending technical and agricultural colleges. The aim is to encourage people of all ages, but particularly young people, to receive training that will fit them for present and future demands and opportunities. It is also desired to give parents a full understanding of the reasons why their children need a higher level of training than has been required in the past so that they will provide encouragement for their families to become more highly qualified. We must emphasise to employers that it is vital to their own interests to support the development of training facilities, not only in schools but also in their own establishments in order to meet the rapidly rising needs for skilled personnel. The community must be persuaded of the national importance of giving vigorous support to the provision of substantially increased facilities for technical education and training.

The aim of this legislation is to facilitate in co-operation with the States the provision of buildings and non-consumable equipment for technical training institutions. It is hoped to complete the scheme by 30 June 1974. The benefits to be derived are substantial. There will be unmatched special purpose grants to the States to provide the facilities for postsecondary non-tertiary training courses in trade schools, technical and agricultural colleges and rural training schools until 30th June 1974. An amount of $70 has been provided. The States Grants (Technical Training) Act provides $36m during the period from 1970 to 1974. The purpose of this legislation is to provide an additional $10m in the balance of the period.

The Government has also established a technical education committee which will be functioning by 1974. The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), who is at the table, must be proud of this measure. On 29th April 1971 in a debate on similar legislation, in his then role of shadow Minister for Education, he said:

I am afraid that Australia needs much greater expenditure and effort directed to technical education to give to the Australian labour force the skill and flexibility it requires.

Tonight we are taking the first step forward by a grant of an additional $10m to the States for that purpose. I agree wholeheartedly with the Bill and I hope that it will pass through all stages unchallenged.

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