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Thursday, 30 August 1973
Page: 710

Mr KEATING - I thank the House. In Mr Snedden's Budget of last year, outlays in Government expenditure rose at twice the rate of the increase in receipts, but it is a different scene today. Even so, we have been able to reassess our priorities and in this Budget fix priorities that have never been fixed before. I should just like to read to honourable members some of the massive increases this Government has provided in certain social areas without giving an overstimulus to the economy. In education we have increased the provision from $439m last year to a staggering $843m, an increase of 92 per cent. We have doubled the allocation for education within 12 months. When we talk in this Parliament about large allocations we think of increases of 5 per cent or 6 per cent, but to increase an allocation by nearly 100 per cent in one year is something this Parliament has never seen before. The Government has increased the appropriation for health from $783m to $979m, an increase of 25 per cent.

In the area of housing and community amenities we have increased the appropriation from $127m last year to $538m this year, a staggering increase of 324 per cent in one year all framed within a Budget that has less money in the economy than the Budget of last year. If that is not an intelligent reallocation of priorities, 1 do not know what it is. The last item to which I wish to refer is culture and recreation for which the allocation has been increased from $117m last year to $163m this year, a quite massive increase of 40 per cent but pale next to the Increases to which I have just referred. So, through responsibly looking at the needs of the economy and the terrible neglect in the areas of social welfare and education by successive Liberal Party governments, wehave been able to provide for the Australian people and at the same time introduce a Budget that will allow the business of Australia to move along, that will allow our factories to run at peak production, with people at a peak level of employment, with the number of unfilled jobs as high as they ever have been and, at the same time, we have tried to do something creditable about the appalling 13 per cent level of inflation created by the former Government 12 months ago.

I should like now to deal with one of the items to which I have referred, namely, education. As I said earlier, the allocation for education has increased from last year's figure of $439m to $843m this year. Most of that amount was provided by virtue of the Karmel Committee report. A few moments ago we heard a member of the Country Party, the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) talking about children in the outback. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) earlier today talked about children in rural schools not being provided for because, if their parents sent them to Sydney to school, they would miss out because they were category A schools. But what honourable members opposite did not tell the Parliament was that, in accordance with the recommendations of the Karmel Committee, the Government has established an isolated children's allowance of up to $1,000 a head for children living in excess of 2 miles from their schools. So, all this talk about not looking after rural children is just not on. No government has ever done that never the Australian Country Party and never the Liberals and if honourable members opposite do not know about this, they should read their Budget documents.

The other matter I wish to deal with is the report of the Karmel Committee. This report has come under criticism in this Parliament on quite a few occasions. I should like to deal with the concept of the Karmel Committee and the needs formula which the Labor Party said it would introduce and enshrine in legislation of this Parliament. When we took office last December the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) asked Professor Karmel to set up this Committee to investigate schools and bring down a recommendation on the needs and priorities of schools. Professor Karmel took what he called a recurrent resource use for all State schools as an index of 100. The Opposition claimed that this index was secretly compiled, but it was forwarded to all schools only a month ago. On the basis of this index, it was the aim of Professor Karmel to raise all schools to the level of an index figure of 140 by 1979. That means that some of the schools today, such as the poorer public and Catholic schools with an index figure of 40, will be lifted up to 140 by 1979 and that grants will be made according to what is found in relation to the criteria set down by the index.

The way the index works is that in category A, the index ranges from 140 to 270. Yet we hear bleating about these wealthy GPS schools, some of which have indexes in the 200 area, whilst some schools in my electorate have an index of only 40. In category B the index ranges from 125 to 140, in category C it ranges from 114 to 125, and so it goes on down to category H which has less than 60. Each category attracts a different level of subsidy so that by 1979 we will have lifted the general standard of schools to an acceptable level. People confuse - of course, the Opposition conveniently confuses - the question of recurrent and capital grants. Even if honourable members opposite confuse this with capital grants and look at the GPS schools which they feel so obliged to protect, they would still find that, under the science and libraries grants system which we are continuing until 1975, an amount of $9.2m will be expended during that period. So, even schools of the GPS character are still attracting that sort of money. I will just read out the names of a few schools to honourable members, if they doubt my word. Take Abbotsleigh Church of England Girls School in New South Wales. It is a category A school. It missed out on an allocation because of recommendations in the Karmel Committee report, but we spent $231,900 on science and library blocks for that school. Kincoppal school at Rose Bay - a Catholic school - received $128,000; Haileysbury College at Keysborough received $303,263; and Scotch College in Hawthorn received $236,000. The science blocks program will continue until 1975 and money is still going to those schools and other schools like them.

I should like to deal with the question of aid to schools. Education in Australia has been a very impoverished item and it has been entitled to a priority which previous governments have failed to recognise. We have tried to do something about the great majority of poor children who never get a chance, and all we have heard is a debate about 105 schools, most of which have levels of fees ranging between $300 and $900. If a person is earning $4,000 a year he does not send his children to those schools. He would have to be earning in excess of $8,000 or $9,000 and probably up to $20,000 and $30,000. It is mostly people in those income brackets who send their children to those schools.

We hear people talk about equality of opportunity for the children. What they are really talking about is equality of opportunity for the parents, because wealthy parents can claim a taxation deduction from $150 to $400 for educational expenses. This year we will pay those wealthy parents out of Consolidated Revenue by way of tax rebate for educational expenses $55m, which is more than Karmel has allocated for disadvantaged children. An amount of $55m will go predominantly to wealthy parents. Eighty per cent of the children who attend GPS schools go to universities. It costs this Parliament $5,000 per head per annum to educate them at university and yet they believe they think they are being hardly done by. Honourable members opposite in the Liberal Party and the Country Party represent what is the greediest section of the Australian community, and that is the parents of children going to GPS schools.

Another disturbing characteristic is that they have used the Democratic Labor Party and the Catholic Church organisation, through the likes of Mr Santamaria, to prop up the parents and friends organisations under the ruse that unless per capita grants go to GPS schools they will not go to the Catholic parochial schools either. So they have held the poor parish Catholic schools with children playing in mud playgrounds and being taught in portable huts to ransom for the per capita figure, which is also to go to the wealthy school. This is the great scandal that has been perpetuated. We have had enough of it. We will allocate money as it is needed to children who deserve an opportunity. We have done this by setting up a basis of need under the Karmel Committee report. I felt sick when I read a couple of weeks ago an article by Mr Santamaria in which he said:

It ought to be axiomatic that you cannot maintain a system of state aid in a religiously divided community without both religious and political bi-partisanship.

What he said was that the bi-partisan concept of aid to independent schools will not remain when the leaders of the Liberal and Country Parties cannot send money to the schools from which they come, and so we had to pay massive amounts of . money just to keep the Liberals interested in the concept of state aid. So we should look at the question of state aid to schools in the light of Mr Santamaria's comments and the Menzies science blocks grants which were handed out in return for DLP votes 10 years ago by a party that was historically and traditionally non-Catholic. These are the facts of the matter. The Karmel Committee report has brought this debate to a head. No concern is shown on the other side of the House for poor Catholic children. The Liberal Party is not a Catholic oriented party. There are hardly any Catholic members of it. One-third of the Parliamentary Labor Party are Catholics. There is a genuine sympathy. Honourable members opposite say that they are concerned about Catholic schools. Sir Robert Menzies used the National Civic Council for DLP votes and to keep money flowing to GPS schools. But it has stopped because the Karmel Committee has fixed economic criteria and priorities for schools not on the basis of religion, not on the basis of income but on the basis of need for the child that goes there. After all this must be the proper criterion. I must wind off on this point: This is an economically responsible Budget. It intends to take inflation out of the economy. It wants to keep the economy going and it wants to fix priorities, which it is doing for schools, health, education and other matters. From what I have said about education it can be seen that Australian children will get a better deal this year and so will the Australian people in general. I commend the Budget to the House.

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