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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 4095

Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory) (Minister for Secondary Industry) - The last speaker, on behalf of the Country Party, mentioned bitterness. Well, we are seeing it here today. We are seeing bitterness in the House on the part of people, half of whom would not have gone to a state school.

Mr Mathews - Only half?

Mr ENDERBY - Well, at least half. They went to wealthy schools and they are showing the bitterness that they represent. They want money to be given to schools which really do not need it. The Australian Labor Party came to power on the firm pledge that it would do right by Australian education and by the school children of Australia who needed assistance. I remind honourable members of the extent of that need. It was only last year, or perhaps the year before, that an independent body said that the state of Australian education was so deplorable after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party neglect that $ 1,400m would not put the situation right. I remind honourable members of that fact.

The Labor Party came to power pledged to put that situation right as soon as practicable. What did the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) say in this respect? In his speech which opened the election campaign and which persuaded the Australian people to vote for the Australian Labor Party the Prime Minister said:

The most rapidly growing sector of public spending under a Labor Government will be education. Education should be the great instrument for the promotion of equality. Under the Liberals it was a weapon for perpetuating inequality and promoting privilege.

Is that not what we are seeing here and now? The privilege and inequality, which honourable members opposite fought so hard to preserve and were so successful in preserving for 23 years and which they now see slipping away from them, have produced the bitterness that has expressed itself in all of their speeches. The Australian Labor Party sees the position in a different light. The Prime Minister, as the then Leader of the Opposition, went on to say for example that under the previous Government the pupils of state and Catholic schools had less than half as good an opportunity as the pupils of non-Catholic independent schools to gain Commonwealth secondary scholarships and very much less than half the opportunity to complete their secondary education. Does anyone deny that that is correct? Does anyone deny that it is the policy of the present Government to spend an additional amount of nearly $700m to put the situation right? Are honourable members opposite saying that the additional $700m should not be spent on education? Are they saying that the money should be denied to education?

Honourable members opposite , collectively and individually , are hypocrites when they come along and say that they are not opposed to the additional expenditure. Everything they have said here amounts to their saying: 'Give us $5m' - bow they have arrived at that figure Heaven only knows - 'for Melbourne Grammar and Sydney Grammar' - the schools they went to- 'and we might be able to make a deal*. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) actually spoke of that. He said: Let us negotiate'. What do honourable members opposite have with which to negotiate? They do not have any credit. They had 23 years in which to prove that they had credit. They have none. The honourable member for Gwydir wants to do a deal of some sort. He said: 'If you do not let the wealthy schools that are the basis of our support keep the money that we were giving to them we' - the Liberal and Country Parties - *will see that the people who really need the $700m do not get it*. If that is not holding a gun at the head of the school children of Australia, who are represented well toy the Labor Government, I do not know what is. If it is not blackmail, I do not know what is.

The honourable member for Gwydir said: Let us negotiate'. What does the Opposition have to negotiate about? What sort of deal does it want? It wants money for Melbourne Grammar. It wants money for Sydney Grammar. It does not want anything for the children who go to schools in Surry Hills, Balmain or Glebe. It does not want any of that. The Opposition has said: 'Let us do a deal. Give us $5m\ Perhaps it will settle for $3m. Perhaps it will settle for $lm. It will get nothing. But the Government will continue its great increase in expenditure on education for the people who need it. The Prime Minister has said that the most rapidly growing sector of public spending under a Labor Government will be education. We will see that it comes about. The spending will not be by way of per capita grants to people who do not need them, so that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and so that the inequality becomes greater every year. Is it not the experience of everyone who has lived in Australia that the gap between the rich and the poor has grown in the last 20 years? Is that not the experience of the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner), who is trying to interject? The honourable member is an honest man. Is it not his experience that the gap between the rich and the poor in this country has grown in the last 20 years? Of course it is. It is the experience of everyone. That is particularly so in the field of education.

An amount of $ 1,400m has been deemed to be what is needed to put the situation right. The Labor Government has said: 'We will put almost half of it forward in our first year of office. We will not neglect the private school sector. We will just see that its needs arc determined on a proper basis'. The money will go to those who need it most, including the poor Catholic parish schools and the poor private schools - and there are some poor private schools. It will be allocated on the basis of need. What could be more equitable? What could be more just? But honourable members opposite want it on a per capita basis. They are being hypocritical when they come into this chamber and say that there is no difference between the child of a rich man and the child of a poor man. There is hypocrisy in that statement. The children are the same; but honourable members opposite are fooling themselves, although they are not fooling the people of Australia, when they say that there is no inequality between the child of a man on $50,000 who chooses to send that child to Melbourne Grammar or Sydney Grammar and the child of a bus driver on $80 a week, $100 a week, or whatever it happens to be who has to send his child to a state school. There is gross inequality.

Look at the schools in the slum areas of Australia. I remember seeing advertised last year the curricula of a wealthy private school in Queensland. Do honourable members know what was included in the curricula? That school offered private flying lessons in a Piper Cherokee aircraft. That is the sort of school to which honourable members opposite want to give money. They say that a child at that school also needs help. What about the school children in Glebe, Surry Hills and Balmain.

Mr Daly - And Newtown.

Mr ENDERBY - And Newtown. I thank the Leader of the House. Honourable members opposite are hypocrites. They are also bastions of privilege. I do not have anything against wealth. I like it. What I want is a better distribution of that wealth and that privilege.

Mr Katter - I will swap you bank accounts.

Mir ENDERBY- The honourable member for Kennedy would win handsomely.

Mr Katter - Well, let us swap.

Mir DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes) - Order! I warn the honourable member for Kennedy that if he does not remain silent I will deal with him.

Mr Katter - I am sorry.

Mr ENDERBY - The honourable member for Kennedy would win handsomely. The Government set up a committee to take the allocation of funds to education out of the hands of politicians such as honourable members opposite, who would give it to Melbourne Grammar, Sydney Grammar and the like. The Government asked the committee it set up to ascertain where the need really is and said that the money it allocated would go there. Honourable members opposite lost an election on this issue. They know that they cannot win on it in this House because they do not have the numbers. Thank God they do not have the numbers in this chamber. But they have the numbers in a place called the Senate, whose members were not elected at the same time as we were. In fact, half of them were elected as far back as 6 years ago. The circumstances of their election had nothing to do with what led the Australian people to elect the Labor Government to office last year.

Honourable members opposite have called upon their majority in the Senate, in the most undemocratic way possible, to thwart, frustrate and sabotage what the Australian people thought they were electing, that is, a political party which had a better education policy.

Honourable members opposite say that what was implicit in everything on which the Australian Labor Party campaigned and everything for which the Australian public voted, including a better deal in education, can be thrown out the window. They say: 'Why should the schools which need the money get $700m if Melbourne Grammar and Sydney Grammar do not get $Sm? That is the attitude of honourable members opposite. They have revealed themselves in their true colours when they have stood up and said those things in this Parliament. The record is abundantly clear. One has only to look at it. For example, in 1972, when honourable members opposite put forward the legislation which they now seek to maintain, although they are no longer in office, and which preserves privilege and increases the difference between poor and rich people, the present Prime Minister, in moving an amendment to the legislation, said that the grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1973. He made his position quite clear then. He spoke about the purpose of need. It is in the platform of the Australian Labor Party. It has been there since 1971. It is recorded in the proceedings of this House and it is in the Prime Minister's policy speech. What could be more consistent and proper than that? We were elected on this proposal.

Mr Hunt - You were not.

Mr ENDERBY - We were elected on this proposal. Nothing could be more abundantly clear. If we have said one thing, it is that we will increase spending on education based upon the needs of the people who most need it and not upon the needs of Sydney Grammar. Even the Karmel Committee reported that the allocation of funds to the category A schools could not be justified. That was one of its findings.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The Minister's time has expired.

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