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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 4077

Mr CROSS (BRISBANE. QLD) - Has the Prime Minister's attention been drawn to reports of widespread illiteracy and other symptoms of gross socioeconomic and educational deprivation among students at the Glebe? Is he aware that the problem of the disadvantaged child is widespread among government and Catholic schools in some areas? Does the Government intend to provide special assistance for schools of this kind, and is the Prime Minister aware of any attempts to frustrate this intention? Are such attempts directed to diverting available funds to schools where illiteracy and the poverty and cultural deprivation from which it arises are unknown?

Mr WHITLAM - I have noticed the articles on the cultural deprivation and the educational hardships of migrant children at the Glebe. They are, of course, paralleled by the deprivations and disadvantages and the handicaps of migrant children in particular in a great number of inner suburbs around Sydney and Melbourne. There is no possibility of the children of migrants in those circumstances achieving an equal opportunity in life in their new country unless the Commonwealth provides the resources to get more teachers, particularly specially trained teachers, and better accommodation and better equipment in the schools.

It is just impossible for the State systems or the relevant Catholic schools to provide an adequate education unless the Australian Government provides or earmarks the resources necessary for that purpose. I gather from statements made by political leaders outside the House yesterday that an attempt may be made to frustrate the Australian Government's efforts to alleviate the situation and to produce a position of educational equality within Australia for all pupils, whether they attend government or non-government schools and whether they were born here or overseas, within the term of 2 parliaments, that is within 6 years.

The attempt referred to takes the form of wanting to retain the provision that was made by the preceding Government in September last year involving the per capita system. The Opposition wants to preserve that and to frustrate the attempt which the present Government has been making on the basis of the Karmel Committee's report tabled in the Parliament 6 months ago tomorrow. The Government's legislation provides for the substitution cf the Karmel Committee's recommendations for the per capita system that was introduced in September last year. The Karmel Committee's recommendations referred to replacing the per capita system by the recommendations, on the basis of need, set out in the report of six months ago. I welcome the opportunity to make it plain that the public has a choice between the needs system, much more lavish overall, and the per capita system which would preserve the inequalities throughout Australia between systems, between regions.

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