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Thursday, 11 October 1973
Page: 2021

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - in reply - At least the honourable member who just spoke, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson), does not come from New South Wales. Such a speech from a New South Wales Liberal would have been the most bare-faced effrontery ever enunciated in this House as it would come from a State government which does not give a farthing to any non-government school at the secondary level. The Australian parents councils, the councils of independent schools and certain ecclesiastical dignitaries from the city of Sydney have nothing to say about the State Government of New South Wales. No doubt they are waiting for Pat Hills to become Premier before saying that the State legislation does not give freedom of choice at the secondary level. However I leave that point aside.

The day on which all of us were waiting for the results of the last election, 2 December 1972, was almost the finish of the last biennium of the McMahon Government. If any of us had taken the trouble to be involved about that Government's educational expenditure in that biennium we would have known that in the 2 years, in every form of grant - capital grant, library grant and science facilities grant - that Government had given to the State schools of Australia $40.5m. In the same 2 years it gave to the non-government schools $7 1.5m. So all up in that biennium its expenditure on schools was $112m.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - You know that is a gross misrepresentation, completely and utterly dishonest.

Mr BEAZLEY - It is not a misrepresentation. Those are the figures prepared by my own Department and I trust them.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Yes, and you asked for the exclusions to make sure you got the prejudiced position that you wanted to depict.

Mr BEAZLEY - I did not ask for any exclusions at all. The figures were given to me.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - You asked for certain figures in a certain form and a certain pattern.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Wannon will cease interjecting.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are members of the Opposition .to stay on this side of the House and allow the Minister to mislead the House and not-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order involved.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - The Minister-


Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is no point of order involved. The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order involved in what you have just mentioned.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I raise another point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is no point of order involved in the matter you just mentioned.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I raise another point of order.

Mr SPEAKER - What is your point of order?

Ms Malcolm Fraser - The Minister himself has interjected on Government speakers throughout the whole of this day's debate, and occasionally in a quite sharp fashion. I think that in that case he ought not to be quite so sensitive when he gets the same treatment.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is no point of order.

Mr BEAZLEY - I assure the honourable gentleman that I am not sensitive to his interjections. The only thing that I could suggest which would be adequate for his speeches would be for us on his side of the House to wear boater hats whenever he spoke. We would then be expressing his values. That $112m all up was the previous Government's expenditure on government and non-government schools in the biennium 1971-72. I would not have dared to have stood on the hustings and said that in the biennium 1974-75 I would propose to spend $693m on schools. But that is what the Karmel Committee has recommended to the Government. I invite the attention of honourable gentlemen opposite to the fact that obligingly in September 1972 they provided that beginning 1 July 1973 - not in the period that they could guarantee was their Budget - there should be, over 5 years, a capital expenditure on non-government schools of $48m and a capital expenditure on government schools of $167m. All of that falls within this proposition and within the expenditure for this year and the following year.

Taking all these things into account - the on-going programs and those in this year, 1973, following your programs - $34m will go to government schools and $57m to non-government schools. Persistently, almost double the expenditure will go to about a third as many children. This is the arrangement that we face. What does the Karmel Committee recommend? Allowing for growth in all the existing expenditure under present programs, there will be $83m for government schools in 1974 and 1975 and $143m for non-government schools.

Mr Wilson -How much are the States spending on state schools?

Mr BEAZLEY - This is an action of the Commonwealth to raise the standard of schools identified as defective in both government and non-government areas. The sum of $83m is to be provided for government schools and $1 43 for non-government schools. The Karmel transformation is to add $397m to the expenditure on the government sector, which will make it $480m, and $50m to the non-government sector, which will make it $193m. People have spoken about destroying the non-government schools. We are destroying them apparently by giving them$193m in the biennium 1974-75, and the late Government was sustaining them by giving them a third of that in its last biennium. Could anything be a more gross misrepresentation than that kind of statement? But I leave that aside in this debate on the Schools Commission Bill.

I merely wish to refute the gross defamation of Karmel, who was and is the appointment of the Party opposite for the Australian Universities Commission but who in this connection has been defamed, and lyingly defamed, from one end of the country to the other. But put that aside. I want to dismiss very quickly the nitpicking approach to this Bill by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) and the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The honourable member for Wannon has a technique of weaving. He gets a statement and he draws all the wicked implications from it, which he imputes to his opponent. He got hold of the fact that this Bill says that the Commission can range from 4 members to 11 members. Of course after he denounced it I wanted to find where this Bill had its origins. I had not remembered the discussions. This provision in the Bill is taken holus-bolus from the former Government's own legislation for the Australian Universities Commission and the Commission of the Colleges of Advanced Education, which states this:

The Committee shall consist of a Chairman and such other members, not being less than four in number nor more than 9 in number, as are appointed from time to time.

If we repeat it, it is sinister; if the former

Government did it, it had no sinister implications at all. But I leave that. It is a minor feature.

I was reading quite recently a book called The Proud Tower'. It is a study of the world before 1914. In that period British Liberals were trying to get amendments to education legislation in Britain that were invariably thrown out of the House of Lords because of the influence of the Anglican Church at that time. Every one of those proposed changes in education would now be recognised as ordinary common sense, as the changes we propose would be recognised as ordinary common sense.

I thank the honourable gentlemen opposite for the notification that the Bill will not pass the Senate, because tomorrow I will be speaking to the members of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, which I had hoped would become the Schools Commission. A collection of sinister people has been conjured up by honourable members opposite. I will be able to tell them that probably they will carry on as an interim committee. But if the previous Interim Committee could raise expenditure from $112m to $693m there is not much more that something called a Schools Commission could do. Since there have been all these pretences about sinister people, let us hear who will be on the Commission. The chairman will be Dr Kenneth McKinnon, who for many years was the Director of Education in Papua New Guinea, who created a very large part of the secondary and teacher education aspects which have been the most marked development of education in Papua New Guinea. Other members will be Mrs J. Blackburn, now senior lecturer at the Sturt College of Advanced Education in Adelaide and who for many years was connected with teacher education; the Director-General of Education in South Australia, Mr A. W. Jones; Father Martin, director of the Catholic Education Office, Melbourne; Dr Peter Tannock, Dean of the Faculty of Education of the University of Western Australia, who also is on the Roman Catholic Archbishop's trustee board or whatever it is called, for education in Western Australia; Mr Ray Costello, the President of the Australian Teachers Federation; Mrs J. Kirner, President of the Victorian Federation of State School Mothers Clubs; Mr A. McNamara, the President of the Sydney Federation of Catholic Parents and Friends Associations; Mr Peter Moyes, the Principal of the Christ Church Grammar School in Western Australia; and Mr A. D. J. Wood, the Principal of St Michael's School for the Handicapped, which I honestly think is regarded as one of the finest schools for the handicapped in the world. Mr Wood comes from near Launceston in Tasmania. There will be 2 other appoint ments - one a very distinguished officer of the New South Wales Department of Education whose name I am not yet free to disclose and another, a man who was until recently a principal of one of the leading experimental schools of Australia.

If the Bill is to be mangled in the way that is proposed by the Opposition and if the Senate's amendments are no more intelligent, then the Opposition will be advising the Government how to exercise its power to make grants under section 96 of the Constitution without having a schools commission. When the honourable member for Wannon was in Government and when we moved any proposals about a schools commission he had a standard argument. He said: 'You can have a universities commission. There are only 22 universities to look at. But you cannot have a schools commission. There are 10,000 schools in Australia; therefore it cannot function'. I think the Interim Committee functioned very well and to the satisfaction of the Australian Education Council which has been cited here this evening by so many people. It consists of the 7 Ministers for Education in this country. The honourable member for Wannon was quite right in saying that there has been some indifferent drafting .because of haste. 1 accept that it was because of haste. I believe the Bill was introduced on 27 September.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - After 10 months drafting by the Government and less than one week for the Opposition to look at it.

Mr BEAZLEY - I think the Opposition had as much chance to study the legislation as is normal. We need not argue about that. I do not mind the incorporation of glorious statements such as the one about Article 26 of the United Nations Charter, but what on earth is the use of telling a Commission in Australia that education shall be free. Of course we have that, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. How long has that been true in Australia? The Commission does not need to be told that now. Article 26 says that technical and professional education shall be made generally available. Well, we are making it more available but it has been here for years. The Article says that higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. We are doing more than that. We are doing it on the basis of matriculation, which may not be the same as merit. At least it is going to be free. The Article goes on to say that it shall promote tolerance and so on. All these things are quite unnecessary.

But the bite came from the honourable gentleman when he said that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. I hope that this will always be taken to mean that Aborigines will have a right to have an education in their own language and culture, which we are attempting to give them for the first time. But the exact point about the propaganda of the Australian Parents Council is interesting. There is another section of the Charter which speaks of the rights of the unborn, and that is an extremely mandatory section of the Charter. This section of the Charter that speaks about the right of parents to choose does not enjoin governments to finance non-government schools, which is the implication being given. This Government does finance non-government schools.

There have been 2 campaigns, one an overcover respectable one and the other an undercover sectarian one which I have encountered in recent weeks. It is a fact that there are 1,768 Roman Catholic schools in Australia compared with 108 Anglican schools. So, necessarily, if the Government starts a policy to assist non-government schools, overwhelmingly the bulk of finance will go to Catholic schools as compared with Anglican schools. What on earth would honourable members expect if one outnumbers the other by 16 to 1? In Australia there are 3 Presbyterian schools, 19 Methodist schools, various Lutheran and Seventh Day Adventists schools; I forget the statistics. But overwhelmingly, 1,768 non-government schools out of 2,190 non-government schools are Roman Catholic. It is probable that the number of schools classified A out of that 2,190 will end up as about 70 schools, and the entire interest of the Opposition is concentrated on those. The final decisions about those schools have yet to be made. Many of them have appeals before the Committee. Some of the honourable gentlemen opposite have used the criteria of the Karmel Committee - which are not binding as criteria on this new Schools Commission at all - to say that one school which is rich is classified D and another one which is poor is classified A. How do honourable members opposite know that the principal of the school did not make a complete mess of his return? They do not know that-

Mr Malcolm Fraser - You were keeping it a secret.

Mr BEAZLEY - Secret my foot! The formula has been published. The schools concerned have been encouraged, where they have made mistakes that have been palpably obvious to the responsible officers, to resubmit their returns.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - You are blaming it all on the schools.

Mr BEAZLEY - I do not blame anyone. I merely say that the comparison between 2 schools is not necessarily the validation of the Karmel criteria. It could be a mistaken return. I refer not to the amendments which honourable members opposite prefer. One matter on which I agree with the honourable member for Wannon is that the drafting of this legislation is bad and it may need polishing up in the Senate because it has in it statements like the one that the Schools Commission is to note the obligation for governments to provide and maintain school systems of the highest standard that are open to all children without fees'. I presume that means Government school systems. Is it saying that it is an obligation of the Schools Commission to maintain Geelong Grammar School open to all children, without fees? That is what the drafting means. If that is what it means then right throughout Australia in making every independent school totally free and paying the lot, we are up for more than $693m. I do not know that I can enjoin that on the Schools Commission. I hope that the Opposition's Senate colleagues, when they are redrafting the Opposition's amendments, will draft that amendment with a little more polish.

The basic point is that this will destroy the needs concept. Its whole intention is to destroy the needs concept. And should it not, from the point of view and the logic of the Opposition? The Opposition when in government faced the situation. The Karmel Committee report refers to non-government schools that range from having resources only 40 per cent of that of the average state school to 270 per cent of that of the average state school. If we take the average state school as S511 per pupil, that means the range in the non-government schools is from a resource level of $204 per pupil to $1,380 per pupil. The late Government's' policy was to give all non-government schools $104 per pupil. The school at the $204 level would still be in the process of buying chalk and pads with the additional $104. The school at the $1,380 level could be buying the most sophisticated equipment, so quite clearly whatever that principle was it was not a needs principle. We have argued for a needs principle and because the amendments overthrow the needs principle - where they do not their meaning is vague - it is not possible for the Government to accept them. In the course of this debate some statements were made upon which I should like to comment. Whatever legislation we bring down or whatever legislation is proposed by the Schools Commission, it will be introduced in the form of States Grants (Schools) Bills. The simple function of the Schools Commission is to advise the Commonwealth Government-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister's time has expired.

Mr Morrison - Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Minister be granted an extension of time.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker before that question is put can the Opposition know whether there will be time for a Committee debate?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no debate on a motion to extend the speaking time of a member or a Minister. The question is that the Minister's time be extended. I think the Ayes have it.

Mr BEAZLEY - I am not giving guarantees about anything. I want the legislation to be passed tonight.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I call the Minister for Education.

Mr BEAZLEY - The legislation that we will bring in is exactly the same in its titles as was the late Government's legislation. They will be States Grants (Schools) Bills. That is what the Schools Commission will be recommending. Honourable members opposite decided as a government that over 5 years they would give $4 8m to non-government schools and $167m to government schools and leave whoever was in office on 1 July 1973 to pay for it. When these arrangements were made the Australian Education Council was not appointing nominees to some advisory body to tell the Minister what to do. The Opposition, when in Government, was totally opposed to such an advisory body as the Schools Commission. I am grateful to those members who, like the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) said they were still opposed to it.

The real purpose of these amendments is to carry through a successful opposition to the Schools Commission without the Opposition showing that it intends to do so. Opposition members have spoken about spiritual aspects of education. I presume therefore that they understand the scriptures. The problem with the Opposition's education policy is that it has been always governed by Mark chapter 4 verse 25 and not by Matthew chapter 11 verse 5. I hope honourable members opposite understand that. If they do not they should have a look at them. Mark chapter 4 verse 5 states: 'To him that hath more shall be given'. Matthew chapter 11 verse 5 speaks about the gospel being preached to the poor, the halt, the maimed and so on - a different basis. When honourable gentlement opposite speak about non-government schools I think they need to face a few simple facts. The distinctive feature about the Catholic sector of education is not that it is Catholic so much from the point of view of a secular government as that it reaches wage earning groups in the community. It can be argued strenuously that Anglican education might do that in certain circumstances but undoubtedly there are orders in Queensland which argue that way which is why I think there are very few category 'A' schools in Queensland.

By and large if one covered the names of the schools and the fees charged by these schools on my Department's schedule and said, 'Fees $1,117 - guess who?', anyone who was in any way intelligent would know it would not be a Roman Catholic school. If the amount was $150 a year and a person was in any way intelligent he might have the problem of deciding whether it was Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist or Roman Catholic school. As the overwhelming majority are Catholic one could safely guess. I refer now to our action for non-government schools in this biennium 1974-75. If the present level of recurring grants to Catholic schools continued the schools would receive $7 1.66m in 2 years. Under the Karmel Committee proposals they will receive $122m. Three-quarters of the schools, 1,768 out of 2,190, are involved. Honourable members opposite should have the integrity to recognise that all of those conditions are being improved and a considerable number of others are also being improved. More than most people have guessed we were told originally that there would be 140 category 'A' schools. I doubt whether there will be many more than 70 of them.

The honourable member for Wannon in seeking to belittle the changes made by the Government said that in teacher education I was merely carrying on his policy from the Cohen report. The Cohen report recommended in the terms of the policies of the late Government. It recommended that if the Government came into teacher education it should do so on the basis of granting $1 whereas the States would grant $1.85. Under those recommendations the Commonwealth would be up for $83m and the States would be up for $124m in round figures. We have changed the $83m to $188m. That is not sleight of hand as has been suggested. We have asked that the schools be autonomous. I believe that the intention of these amendments is to destroy the intention of the Bill. If the amendments are agreed to in the Senate and returned to this House for agreement my recommendation to the Party will be that they are totally unacceptable. If it means that no Schools Commission comes into being and the body has to carry on as an Interim Schools Committee I will certainly stump the country.

No member opposite has dared to deny that we have a mandate to set up this Commission. They have made many innuendos about the sort of people we would appoint to the Commission, but no one has dared to name a soul whom we have already nominated. The people we have nominated are of the highest integrity and of the highest ability in this country. I have been scrupulous in the representation of Catholic and independent schools. I could not imagine a more distinguished man than Mr Peter Moyes, the headmaster of Christ Church Grammar, who has been chosen by all the headmasters of the independent schools as their president. That choice of presidency came after I looked at a panel of names from that quarter and selected him as a man I thought to be outstanding. He is a man of great integrity and of great intellectual insight who, in Christ Church Grammar School, has developed a magnificent section for brain damaged handicapped children as well as having a school with children of the highest academic ability. We have been quite scrupulous in wanting those viewpoints reflected.

The Schools Commission, if it comes into being will not be bound by any of the criteria of the Karmel Committee but I hope it will be bound by a challenge of that Committee. The challenge was to raise all schools in Australia over the next 6 years to a level at least 140 per cent of the existing State school level. That effort over 6 years will involve $2,000m of Commonwealth money at the 1973 value of the dollar. I hope that that kind of challenge will continue. The Karmel Committee operation was not a snide depriving of any schools. The Committee had a conception that there was an aim of minimum dignified standards. It was 140 per cent above the existing State school average level. All schools below that level - and some of the non-government schools were abysmally below that level - were to be brought up to that level and the $693m to which we refer is the first 2 years expenditure of that 6-year program. The Schools Commission, if it comes into being, has the right to vary that program. If the Senate insists on these ill drafted amendments that have been put up by the Opposition this evening and returns them to the House of Representatives no doubt the Schools Commission will not come into being. I will ask the Interim Schools Committee to continue to advise the Commonwealth Government on how to exercise its grants under section 96. I remind the members of the late Government that they exercised grants under section 96 apparently on their own decision and certainly not on decisions of panels of independent, schools and the Australian Education Commission, or even on decisions of a representative committee such as the Interim Schools Committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee

Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 3.

In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - " Australian Capital Territory " includes the Jervis Bay Territory;

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