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Monday, 15 October 1973
Page: 2071

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - I think it is very probable that the sizes of the Boards or the numbers of people on them will differ from State to State. I think it is obvious that there Would need to be a larger Board in a State such as New South Wales than in a State such as Tasmania.

Mr MacKellar - But what about-

Mr BEAZLEY - If there is a part that is not adequate, I will treat this as a dialogue. We envisage a Commission consisting of 3 or 4 full-time members - a chairman and 2 or 3 others. It ought to be the function of these full-time members to go and sit with these Boards at crucial times when they are meeting. The Committee suggested that the regional boards might comprise the following: A full time commissioner as Chairman - that would be one of the 3 or 4; a State Director-General of Education or his nominee; the Director of the State Catholic Education Office or his nominee; a nominee of the Association of Independent Schools; a nominee of the government school teachers' organisation; a nominee of the government schools parents organisations; 4 members appointed by the Commonwealth Minister for Education after consultation with the State Minister for Education. That is the suggestion of Karmel, and it would be my general thinking, since the honourable member has asked for it.

Mr MacKellar - Do you accept that recommendation?

Mr BEAZLEY - Yes, I would accept it. I do not think you could apply it rigidly everywhere. I do not think you want to specify rigidly what the Karmel Committee has recommended, but I accept this as my genera] thinking on the matter. I would think that some of these elements were quite essential. 1 think it would be quite essential to have representation of the 2 large sections of education; to have on the boards a nominee of the State Director-General of Education so as to be able to consult him about someone; to have a director of the Catholic Education Office and a nominee of the Association of Independent Schools. Without this I do not think the Schools Commission would function effectively and 1 do not think the boards would be a proper intelligence organisation for the Schools Commission. I generally subscribe to those points. I do not know that everywhere you need to have 4 other members apart from those people, nor do I regard the Karmel Committee as having thought out all the elements that might necessarily be recommended, but I accept the recommendations of paragraph 13.9 of the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. The whole of that paragraph indicates the general nature of the boards. But we are also feeling for local initiatives. In my own heart I feel that there is another category of schools to which no reference has been made. In the Australian Capital Territory I approved a guaranteed loan for the Association of Modern Education. In respecting the consciences of parents I respect the consciences of those parents who say: 'A plague on both your houses of State schools and religious schools. We do not think they really get into the field of education in the way we want and we have newer and more innovative ideas.' Some of the schools they have in mind are very good ones. They do not exist in every State, but if they did I would want representation from those. Then there are some States where outstanding work is being done in some schools in connection with handicapped education. In that State where you have a first class mind dealing with handicapped education, whether in government or nongovernment schools - I am thinking now of a non-government school in Western Australia, Christ Church Grammar, which has an extremely good centre for brain damaged children - you may want such a teacher as a board member. This is why I want flexibility and not specifics. I assure the honourable gentleman that we are making this Bill a Bill for government and non-government schools and we want the representation of both. I want non-government schools to include the experimental schools and I want schools for handicapped on government, non-government or experimental sides represented. We want flexibility.

Question put.

That the clause proposed to be omitted (Mr MacKellar's amendment) stand part of the Bill.

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