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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2294

Mr JARMAN (Deakin) - One cannot speak to the estimates for the Department of Education without one's views on education being overshadowed by the Karmel report. The Karmel report is to become the blueprint for the present socialist Government's approach to education. It is an exceedingly interesting document and in many respects a valuable one, especially as a basis for future discussions. This year, $145m has been appropriated for education. The Karmel report is to be applauded for its recommendation for extra money to be spent in schools which at present are not up to the standard which an affluent country such as Australia should expect. But, just as the Karmel report is forward looking te one respect, it is backward looking in another. I refer to the ridiculous argument that, because parents of the children attending some schools have worked to provide better facilities for those schools, those schools by some simple reasoning become so-called wealthy schools, and that parents of the children attending those schools hence must be penalised for their initiative in improving the facilities at those schools.

Let us, if we can, divorce ourselves from the religious and political bigotry which for so long has dogged this question of government assistance to independent schools and look at the situation as sanely and as logically as one would expect members of the Australian community and the Australian Parliament to look at it. Every child attending school is an Australian citizen and is entitled to be treated equally with every other Australian child. His parents, as Australian citizens and taxpayers, are entitled to be treated equally with other citizens and taxpayers. If the Government is prepared to spend $800 a year on the secondary education of one Australian child, every other Australian child should be entitled to the same amount of expenditure by the same Government, and he should be entitled to it as a right, irrespective of the school he attends.

What does it matter to a government what school a pupil attends, provided that school maintains the required standards as laid down by the Department of Education? I know that it is part of the policy of the Australian Labor Party to equalise, nationalise and regiment every member of the community. That is part of its philosophy, and I suppose the rest of us have to live with it. The Labor Party believes in one nationalised banking system, one nationalised airline system and the nationalisation of Australia's resources and is working toward one nationalised education system.

One of the things one learns as a first year accountancy student is to distinguish between capital and income. Professor Karmel and his committee apparently have not been told of this rudimentary distinction; neither, apparently, has the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) or his Government. They have classified 105 Australian schools as wealthy schools - a horribly class conscious term that could emanate only from socialists, such as the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), who is interjecting - and as a result this Government intends to deprive the children attending those schools of any government assistance. There is no sense of justice in their approach. I am disappointed with the Minister for Education because I have always thought that he would place justice highly among his principles. Apparently I was wrong and he has bowed to the will of Caucus and its doctrinaire approach in this regard. It is a great pity, and he loses in standing because of it.

A wealthy person - even a wealthy person such as the honourable member for Casey, on his salary - can send his child to a government run school, pay nothing in fees and cost the taxpayers $800 a year for the education of his child; yet he is quite capable of paying for that education, the same as anyone else. But he makes his children a charge on the community. A struggling family on a much lower income than the honourable member for Casey may send their child to an independent school. The mother of the second family may work to send that child to that school and the parents may make great sacrifices to do so. This Government, ridden as it is with class hatred, applauds and assists the first family but berates the second family. The Minister for Education shrugs his shoulders and probably mentally says: 'So what?'. The fundamental fact that this Minister and his Government refuse to admit is that none of the independent schools run at a profit. Their fees simply cover their costs and, with the wage increases and galloping inflation which have come about since the Labor Government came to power, the fees are fast becoming beyond the reach of the average family. So, the Government will achieve what it really wants. These schools will become the province of the wealthy and the children of ordinary parents who at present, by making considerable personal sacrifices, can send their children to these schools will be forced to withdraw them. Some of these schools will collapse and the others will become elitist schools attended only by snobbish children of snobbish parents. So, the Government is well on its way to its doctrinaire, nationalised, socialist education system.

It is interesting to note that the Government has not felt strong enough to attack the Catholic parish schols. It realises that Catholics represent approximately 25 per cent or more of the population and, in its present parlous electoral position, it does not wish to worsen further that position. It is to the admirable credit of the Catholic bishops and laymen that they have deplored the grants being taken from Protestant schools just as strongly as if they had been taken from Catholic schools. A very interesting cartoon appeared recently in the London 'Daily Express'. Apparently the socialists in Britain are just as bad as the socialist Government here in Australia. The cartoon's theme is nationalisation and it depicts one person, who could very well be our present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), hopping up and saying: 'Nationalise the lot!'; another person, who could very well be the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) saying: Confiscation not compensation'; another one, who could very well be the Minister for Educa tion who is sitting at the table, saying: 'No private schools!'; and another one, who could very well be the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), saying: 'No private medicine!'. These are the sort of people who are running our country. Apparently, socialists, whether they be in Britain or Australia, are much the same.

I should like to read briefly from a letter I received from the bursar of the Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne which, strangely enough, has not been classed as an A class school. The letter states:

I enclose a copy of a circular letter sent to MLC parents (of whom it is estimated approximately 47 per cent voted for Labor's educational policies in the December elections).

Perhaps Labor will not be getting those votes in future. The bursar goes on to say:

The loss of per capita grants to schools is actually a loss to parents in that fees must be raised to cover the recurrent expenses. Parents, partly due to the fact that up to 40 per cent of mothers are in part or full time employment primarily to keep their children at schools of their choice, pay equal or more in taxation than those parents who by choice or circumstances send their children to government schools. Surely they are entitled either by direct refund on presentation of receipted accounts, or by means of per capita grants to the particular school at which their son or daughter attends, because the educational cost allocation should extend to their children's benefit also.

The bursar goes on to say:

Of particular concern to most of the independent schools is not only the heavy loss of enrolments to them but as to how the government schools will cope with an extraordinary influx of the additional students who must on account of the increased financial strain on their parents apply for places in 1974.

He continues:

The immediate cost for adequate new buildings, teaching staff and facilities will be enormous, and in the long term the costs for maintenance added to the immediate expenses will be a charge on the taxpayers to an amount very much greater than that now removed by cancellation or reduction of per capita grants to many independent schools.

Though requesting for a review of the Karmel report in its relation to the independent schools, I do appreciate very sincerely the fact that allocations have been so widely given to assist under privileged students.

Those are the views of an expert who knows what he is talking about. This is what the Government is doing to independent schools. Today it is the Protestant independent schools; tomorrow who knows? This Government is throwing money around like a child with 4 hands. It is to its eternal shame that because it is ridden with policies of class hatred it is deliberately destroying the independent school system which has served Australia so well and for so long.

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