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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2248

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - Firstly I should like briefly to answer the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson). The honourable member will recall that I tabled the Cohen Report on teacher education in this House recently. I hope next week to be in a position to make a statement of Government policy on that report. The report deals with the training of teachers of the handicapped, with teachers' college libraries and many things like that. I am not in a position to make a statement about it at present; the matter is under consideration by Cabinet. I am interested in what the honourable member said.

The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) raised a number of questions. I gathered that the purport of his remarks was that the Schools Commission will be reporting at the end of this month but that there are immediate problems in education. We have not left the States waiting for the Schools Commission's report. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has announced to the States that the Government will be fully prepared to finance tertiary education next year and will release funds through the Schools Commission equivalent to what the States will be saving in not having to spend on tertiary education. In other words they know that for other areas of education they will, from 1st January next, have on offer - this is the Commonwealth offer - at least $250m. This, under the terms of the Schools Commission charter, must be additional to existing expenditure. I must say that I expected this to be welcomed. The money will be in the form of grants under section 96. I can only say that if I recited the litany to certain State Ministers it would apparently reach their ears transformed into insults. Some of them have treated as an act of aggression our offer of this money. Having made it the ground of insult, especially in the case of Victoria, they have gone on in their election campaign to make promises on the basis of the money coming to them - money which they appeared to indicate they would not be willing to accept because they called it Commonwealth control when it will simply be grants under section 96. However, to answer the very important point made by the honourable member, the States have not been left guessing and waiting till the Schools Commission makes its report at the end of this month.

The honourable member should recognise that the Schools Commission will be dealing with 2 questions - private schools or nongovernment schools and government schools, The honourable member also will recoiled that the previous Government - his own government - made certain decisions which th« present Government is honouring. Some othose decisions start operating on 1st July The previous Government had a 5-year pro gram for State schools of $167m. Spread equally over 5 years that represents $33.4m j year. On 1st July this money becomes avail able to the States.

We are maintaining the late Government's legislation. For the private schools, $48m was provided over 5 years. This represents an average of $9.6m a year. The Dougherty Committee, which the late Government established, will be functioning for the year that commences on 1st July next, and the amount of $9m that the late Government envisaged going to the non-government schools will go to the non-government schools in that year. This is quite separate from anything that the Schools Commission will recommend. In the recurring grants range for the private schools, the position is that this year they will be getting what the late Government determined for them, namely, $104 a head for secondary school students and $62 a head for primary school students. They will get their second instalment of that on 1st July, so there is no pressure for these sorts of questions because continuity from the late. Government's policy is being maintained.

Mr SPEAKER -It being 11 o'clock, the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

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