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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 4092

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson (PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Order! By implication the honourable member for Mackellar has now called the PostmasterGeneral a liar. I ask him to withdraw the implication.

Mr Wentworth - Mr Deputy Speaker, I am only saying that he should tell the truth. I withdraw the implication.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - No point of order is involved.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Thank you for your protection, Mr Deputy Speaker. For the people listening the .issue is this: The Opposition is trying to blackmail us on the basis that unless we give $5m the Opposition will not agree to clause 66 remaining. Where is your legal logic in this issue? Clause 66 has nothing to do with $5m going anywhere else. If you wanted $5m the appropriate clause was clause IS. You had a chance to debate clause 15, or you could have moved the appropriate amendment, not opposing the Bill if you felt something should be done with the provisions in those categories. However, you come here and say that the Government will not obtain the repeal of the present legislation.

Mr Nixon - Why do you not keep your promises?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That remark comes from the Country Party's professional interjector, who is a likeable fellow but a very bad politician. Now let us look at it from the point of view of what the Opposition is saying. The Opposition is insisting, and the honourable member for Wannon is on record as saying: 'I will make you have 2 Acts, the one you want and our old one'. If one looks at paragraphs 6.45 and 6.54 of the Karmel report it reveals that an amount of $42m is in one and $72m in the other. I know the Opposition does not like figures, but this is a total of $114m.

Mr Nixon - You can do better than that.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not have to do better to beat your Opposition. Fancy the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) raising the matters on Grievance Day - a most appropriate day having not even taken part in the debate on the Schools Grant Bill. He is now worried and issuing Press statements inventing mathematical figures. Where do you move your amendment to pick up the $5m? The amendment involved $114m. That would mean that the whole of the Government's program to help the needy in the government and nongovernment area is wrecked. You cannot go back and find another $114 out of the Budget - nor would we. We would be denying our principles on need to suggest that we would cave in on that issue. Further, we will take you to the people on the issue. Let us be clear on that. We will see then how well you perform in the Senate. If Opposition member's have any intelligence and understanding of what they are talking about they would realise that they must terminate the existing legislation otherwise they will be fighting an election on the basis of still wanting 20 per cent across the board which would include those who have resources 2i times that of the norm. (Extension of time granted).

I make the position clear. The legislation we are introducing is in accordance with the Karmel Committee report. The only point of contention that the Opposition is now trying to raise today - and which it did not raise in the debate - is that there should have been some consideration of that aspect of the report which referred to higher category schools being phased out. That I shall acknowledge. However, the fact is that the report said that there was no " justification for the continuation of those grants but that those schools might be affected in their budgeting and some consideration should be given to them. That is the one kick in the Opposition's case. But the Opposition is saying that because that little aspect has not been looked at it will give us nothing for the government and nongovernment area which is in need. It could have allowed clause 66 to remain and enable a carrying out of all the programs, which I might add all the State Premiers have endorsed and for which they have already allocated money. Unless the program is allowed to flow through the whole of the State's programs for the next year is in jeopardy. They are upset now. I am being inundated by phone calls from across the nation.

Responsible Ministers for Education in the States, irrespective of their politics, will have the whole of their programs put in jeopardy. I instance Victoria where they have the land, the buildings and contracts let on the basis of receiving this money and that State's program will be put in jeopardy unless some more money is given. For a start there was no amendment at all. The first time that I heard of the $5m was in a Press release by the Leader of the Opposition. Let it be put on record that I understand the Opposition spokesman on education and the acting spokesman on education had a little difference in the Press gallery as to who should be issuing Press releases and what they should say. I suppose that because they could not make up their minds on a Press release they got the Leader of the Opposition to do one and he has plucked the mathematical figure of $5m out of the air. He still has not given any indication as to how it would be allocated. Mathematically I do not think he can make it stick, but from our point of view that is not the issue.

The issue is clause 66, the termination of the old legislation and the re-allocation of the appropriation of $114m, which is within the $690m that we are providing in this Bill. The Opposition has placed the whole lot in jeopardy by saying that we are not going to get the $114m for re-allocation. It could have let clause 66 remain and moved an amendment to clause 15 to guarantee that what it is contending could be argued and debated. It is too late for a death-bed repentance of the Opposition to say on grievance day that something should be done. I very much doubt whether there has ever been debate like this where a Bill has passed through the House of

Representatives, to the Senate but is not yet debated there, while grievance day is being used to have another second reading debate. This would be the first time ever. It shows how worried the Opposition is. I thank the House for the opportunity to reply.

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