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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 3891

Mr MATHEWS (Casey) - Like other honourable members on this side of the House, I thought for the first two-thirds of the speech delivered by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) that the honourable member had undergone a transformation like Saul on the road to Damascus. The honourable member led us all very neatly up the garden path during the first part of his remarks. When he purported to support the legislation before the House and to commit his Party to such support, he encouraged us to believe that the leopard can indeed change its spots. Science is vindicated: The leopard remains unchanged. In the last few words of his speech the honourable member for Wannon demonstrated that the Opposition remains committed, as it was committed in government, to the system of per capita grants which has so long underpinned and perpetuated the inequalities of education in this country.

Mr Staley - Nonsense!

Mr MATHEWS - If the honourable gentleman who spoke and the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) who now interjects are in any doubt about that proposition I refer them to the remark made by the Karmel Committee on this very point. Students, teachers and parents who are looking forward with great eagerness to the transformation of Australian schools along the lines recommended by Professor Karmel and the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission have been left in doubt today about the intentions of the Opposition. They do not know whether the Opposition will in fact use its majority in another place to deny Australian schools the benefits that the Karmel Committee has proposed for them.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - We are supporting the legislation. We are supporting the second reading.

Mr MATHEWS - The honourable member for Wannon interjects and says that he is supporting the legislation. The honourable member has already put the House on "notice that he will be opposing a crucial part of the legislation. The House is entitled to know how far he and his Party intend to press this opposition. Very many people around this country will be waiting on the answer to that question because so much revolves on it.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Deputy Speaker, would it be out of order to ask for leave to give the answer now to the question which the honourable member raises?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Yes.I think that the honourable member for Wannon has been in this House long enough to know that it would be out of order.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - The answer can be given as soon as the honourable member for Casey sits down.

Mr MATHEWS - The honourable member for Casey would be happy to yield, in the best traditions of the House of Commons, to the request made by the honourable member for Wannon.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Carry on.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Deputy Speaker-

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