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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2296

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - I should like to comment on the speech of the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) who spoke a little while ago about Commonwealth expenditure on schools as distinct from Commonwealth expenditure on tertiary education. I should like to draw the attention of the honourable member for Forrest to the fact that so far no Labor Budget has been put through this Parliament. Therefore, the educational expenditures upon which he commented were a result of the Budget passed last year. I know that the honourable member was not making party political points. Of course the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman), who has just spoken, made nothing else. But the point that I want to make is in relation to the actual expenditure of the Commonwealth Government on schools. The honourable member for Forrest will recall that in September last year we gave an undertaking that for the academic year 1973 we would continue the policies of the late Government. As a result $88.6m has been spent on schools. The expenditure on tertiary education is, of course, overwhelmingly larger than that amount - and that was the policy of the late Government.

Under the recommendations of the Interim Schools Committee, which recommends the grants to the States, in the academic year 1974 the expenditure of $88. 6m on schools for this year will become $276.5m, and for the academic year 1975 it will become $41 1.6m on schools. So the growth will be about fivefold. Even allowing for the strictures on inflation of the honourable member for Deakin these will be considerable increases. The honourable member for Deakin spoke about the destruction of the independent schools. In his speech - and I notice he does not wait to listen to the reply - he said that we were destroying the independent schools. I invite the attention of the House to the means of destroying the independent schools. In the last biennium of the late Government, 1971-72, the all-up expenditure, every form of expenditure, on state schools by the late Government was $40.5m, and on independent schools was $7 1.5m. Under the Karmel plan, which has come in for its share of criticism, the all-up expenditure in the next biennium on government schools will be $495m, a twelvefold increase; and on independent schools it will be $195m, about a threefold increase.

The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) of course is quite right in saying that money is not the only factor. But I suggest to the honourable gentleman that we should not fall into the opposite error of making religion a hurrah word. There is one Englishspeaking community which has only religious schools, and that community is Ulster. I think the honourable gentleman might recognise that religion as a form of indoctrination, rather than what it ought to be, can be a form of paganism which is thoroughly mischievous. Anyway, I am not satisfied with the results in Ulster. I hope that what really communicates itself to a child is the real qualities of the child's teachers, and those may not always relate to the doctrines the teachers profess. After all, the priest and the Levi had all the right doctrines, even from Christ's point of view, and the Samaritans had all the wrong ones. But that is not the point of the story. So we might look for other qualities in education rather than merely the question of religious profession.

Surely the honourable member regards it as less than satisfactory that, pursuing the policies of his Government and the Budget of his Government, this year $28m is spent on State schools and $60.2m is spent on independent schools. That may be assisting what the honourable gentleman calls quality with a vengeance. But the enrolment in the state schools is more than 3 times as great as in the private schools. The Commonwealth, after all, is not a party principal in education except in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, and it will be in tertiary education. I am surprised that none of the honourable gentlemen opposite has mentioned a word about universities, colleges of advanced education and technical schools becoming free. If one is going to talk about who is getting the benefit in education I draw the attention of the honourable gentlemen opposite to these facts: Twenty-eight per cent of state school children complete a secondary education and can go on to a tertiary education; 35 per cent of children at Catholic schools complete a secondary education and can go on to a tertiary education; 86.5 per cent of children in non-Catholic non-government schools complete a secondary education and can go on to a tertiary education. If a child goes on to a tertiary education he really hits the taxpayers' jackpot.

The Australian National University may be an extreme case, but it has 5,000 students and costs S43m a year to run - that is in the current Budget. By passing all the way through the education system an arts graduate possibly costs the taxpayer $10,000. According to Mr Willis a graduated doctor costs the taxpayer $45,000. If a child attends the non-government non-Catholic sector of education - which normally is the high fee charging sector - and he goes on to tertiary education he will get a subvention from the taxpayer which leaves the ordinary child in the ordinary state school for dead. Three years of high school-

Mr Bourchier - What about the number of state school students who go on for technical education?

Mr BEAZLEY - Bui 75 per cent of state school children do not go on.

Mr Bourchier - But a number do. You have not mentioned that percentage.

Mr BEAZLEY - I do not dispute the number. Let us deal with groups of children at the moment. I am not trying to suppress facts, ] am just asking honourable members to consider a few other things in the sociology of who gets what in education.

Mr Bourchier - But the big percentage of state students go on.

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