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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 3274

Mr MATHEWS (Casey) - The House will be interested to know that the Assistant DirectorGeneral of the Victorian Education Department has been authorised by the Victorian Minister for Education, Mr Thompson, to writeto schools in the following terms:

Dear Sir

The sum of $X has been allocated to your school under a scheme of supplementary grants to disadvantaged schools as announced recently by the Government of Victoria. This sum is included in the enclosed cheque with your first payment under the new schools grants scheme.

Although this will be the only direct payment to your school under the supplementary grants scheme for the current financial year, the school will still be eligible to apply for further funds for the support of special programs designed to overcome disadvantage. Full details will be forwarded to all schools at the earliest opportunity.

The Education Department does not propose to direct schools as to how their supplementary grants should be spent. It is suggested however that a close reading of Chapter 9 of the Report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission will be of advantage.

Schools will be expected to provide details of their supplementary grant expenditures as the Education Department is required to report this information to the Schools Commission . . .

Yours faithfully,

Tom Moore

Assistant DirectorGeneral

There is nothing surprising in this evidence of the way in which the Victorian Minister consistently and with a total lack of scruple takes credit for the new forms of assistance for schools which have been introduced by the Australian Government. What is surprising is the evidence that on this occasion the Minister has overreached himself by spending money which requires the authorisation of this House and for which as yet this House has made no authorisation. What is surprising is the abandon with which the Minister is disbursing funds which are dependent in part upon legislation currently undergoing mutilation at the hands of his Party colleagues in another place.

The Assistant DirectorGeneral makes it perfectly clear in his letter that the funds to which he refers are those provided on the recommendation of the Karmel Committee.

In the second last paragraph I have quoted he refers school principals to chapter 9 of the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. In the last paragraph I have quoted he explains that the Education Department is obliged to report to the Schools Commission on the expenditure of the cheques the principals have been sent. In fact, no State government or other school authority has been given permission to spend Karmel money in advance of this Parliament approving the establishment of the Schools Commission by which such spending is to be authorised. No State Government or other school authority has been given permission to spend the grants proposed by the Karmel Committee in advance of this Parliament passing the States grants legislation through which alone such grants can be made available. The whole prospect of these grants being made available promptly or indeed at all has been, thrown into doubt by the way in which the Opposition is endeavouring to deprive the Government of the advice of the Schools Commission for which it won a mandate at last December's election. The whole prospect of the grants has been obscured by the evident intention of the Opposition to interpose its Senate numbers between the children of Australian schools and the Australian Government assistance which is needed if they are to enjoy an equal opportunity of developing the talents with which they are endowed. The Victorian Minister finds himself out on a limb, and I hope he will use his good offices with his colleagues both here and in the other place to see that they refrain from sawing off that limb by denying approval of the funds he has already spent.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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