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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2639

Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley) - First of all, I make it very clear that I take great pride in being a supporter of a Government which, immediately upon being elected to office, commissoned the Karmel report. This decision of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is one of the most far-sighted actions ever taken in this country in the field of education. In fact, I would say that it is the most far-sighted action.

The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson said that all schools should be open - I assume that he means after school hours - to the general community. I challenge him. I agree with him. I am a strong advocate of this proposition in my area. I believe that all state schools should be available for use for after school activities.

Mr Keogh - For the general community.

Mr ARMITAGE - For the general community. It is ridiculous that so much capital expenditure is unused. The facilities of the schools are used between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. I agree with the honourable member; but can he convince St Peters College in Adelaide, the

Sydney Grammar School and the Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School-

Mr Martin - The King's School.

Mr ARMITAGE - . . . the King's School, Geelong Grammar and a few of those others to do the same? I would welcome it. I am advocating it. Many of the headmasters in my area are behind such a scheme. I am quite satisfied that all the schools, whether they are state schools or non-state schools, in my area - it being a deprived area - would be prepared to do it; but I could not see those Greater Public Schools doing it. As I said, I am proud to be a supporter of a Government which commissioned the Karmel Committee report. It is a report which shows humanity and compassion. It is based on the needs concept - the need to help those who require assistance. The report recommends the discontinuance of what has existed in the past, where those who are in positions of power and who have plenty are the very people who have been receiving the most assistance from the previous Government.

I represent an area of very great need - the far western suburbs of Sydney. My electorate contains areas such as Blacktown, Mount Druitt and St Mary's. These are the areas of real need, if ever there was need. Let me deal with some of the problems which exist in those areas and show how they can be assisted by the recommendations contained in the Karmel report, which recommendations in every instance with the exception of one - that recommendation related to the A class schools - have been accepted by this Government. For a start, as mentioned by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), the Budget contains an increase in the allocation for education of 92 per cent in one year. That is a most extraordinary increase. I wish to sound one warning. I am concerned whether the education departments of the State governments can fulfil completely what is required of them in the Karmel report. I know that there are some education departments - New South Wales would be the greatest example - which are extrtmely inefficient in their administration. The New South Wales Education Department, I regret to say, is acknowledged as the most inefficient Education Department administratively in the whole of the Commonwealth, even though New South Wales is the greatest and the largest State.

Mr Cohen - In the last 8 years.

Mr ARMITAGE - That is right; in the last 8 years. I agree. There is bad administration. The various State goverments should ensure that they utilise that recommendation of the Karmel Committee report which provides for the employment of consultants. I think that is most important. I cannot see, for example, the New South Wales Education Department spending the money allocated to it unless it employs outside consultants. That is a recommendation of the Karmel Committee. I believe that this one recommendation that New South Wales in particular should implement.

I refer to the question of those schools which are deprived, those schools which are in need. Unfortunately they are the schools for which those members on the Opposition side who have spoken have no compassion. They are forever fighting the case of the A class school. They forget all the rest, whether they be State or non-State schools. They are not concerned with the problems of other schools. They are concerned with the problems of the wealthy schools - not the parish schools, not the small schools, not those schools which take the children, whether they be Catholic or otherwise, of people who are workers. We hear not one word from the Opposition side advocating support for the State schools and the non-State schools which represent the working class elements of this country.

I can give some examples of how deprived some schools are. In the western suburbs of Sydney the greatest needs of the non-State schools are buildings and equipment. The greatest need of the State schools is adequate teaching facilities. I will give some examples. In one high school a fifth year science teacher, who as a matter of fact was teaching my own daughter, could not be understood by the pupils she was teaching and finally had to resign because she could not cope. She could not be understood because she did not have the capacity in English. In another high school a first year English teacher could not be understood by the pupils she was teaching. In another high school a mathematics teacher tried to explain to the children present that there were 31 days in February and accordingly lost all control of the class. I am not talking nonsense. These are things which happened last year.

Mr Cooke - Who is to blame for that

Mr ARMITAGE - The State Education Department of New South Wales and the

Liberal Government of New South Wales are to blame. It is a complete disgrace. They have no moral concepts. They are not concerned. The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe), who is a member of the Country Party, is not concerned about the future of those children being taught by teachers of that standard. The New South Wales Government is to blame. The Country Party is to blame because it is a coalition partner in the Government in the State of New South Wales. This is the way in which the children in some areas are deprived. This is why there is a need for a needs concept as contained in the Karmel report. It is why there is a need for special allocations under section 96 of the Constitution to provide special incentives to keep those good teachers in the west where they are. I give as an example the provision of inexpensive housing for those teachers who are there now and who are required but who unfortunately far too often leave after 2 years. These are the reasons why I support the Karmel Committee's report. I believe it is moral. I believe it shows compassion. I believe it shows humanity. I cannot understand in any circumstances how anybody claiming to represent the mass of the people of Australia could do otherwise than support the needs concept in that report.

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