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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 656

Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) - in reply - To conclude the debate and in expressing my thanks as Chairman of the Senate Committee for the nature of the debate tonight, I remind the Senate that in my opening remarks in this debate I mentioned that our report contained 33 recommendations. I think it will be agreed that in the course of the debate which has taken place since 8 o'clock there have been references to every one of those 33 recommendations in terms both of the short term arrangements and the long term arrangements which the Committee recommended. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) referred to what he called the unity of. purpose of the Committee in the work which it set out to do. The unity of purpose within the Committee was to draw to the attention of the Government, and through the Government to the country, the situation in which education found itself today.

One of the earlier speakers in the debate referred to the line in our report where we mentioned that in spite of a growing recognition of the need for more emphasis on teacher education, the truth of the description of teacher training given to the Committee by one distinguished educationist as the Cinderella of education was recognised by the Committee. The Committee has sought to draw this matter to the attention of the Senate in order that this sphere of education may be recognised for the high place it holds and should hold in the total sphere. The Minister referred in broad terms to the unanimity of view which the Committee held. With the exception of the areas which have been mentioned in the debate, this is true. I hope that it will not be thought that in reaching unanimity we arrived at the lowest common denominator in our deliberations or that we were unduly compromising. A study of the report will reveal that is it not only comprehensive but also strongly positive and robust.

The principle of Commonwealth responsibility to contribute to the cost of education generally and to teacher education particularly has been the subject of much debate and not a little difference of opinion. Education in Australia traditionally has been regarded as primarily a responsibility of State governments, but it is true also that ample powers exist under the Constitution for the Commonwealth to make financial contributions in a number of fields, including education. The question that we faced so often was not whether the Commonwealth could come to the aid of our teacher education system but how great its commitment should be and in what way it could best help. A solution to this problem was our constant target as we set out on our course. We came forward with the programme which the Minister has acknowledged in the Senate tonight. His acknowledgment is greatly appreciated by all members of the Committee and particularly by myself. I am particularly appreciative of the comments in the letter from the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) from which Senator Wright quoted and in which the Minister said that he expects that the Committee's work in this field will continue to exert an influence on the further development of policies in the sphere of teacher education. I hope that the resolution relating to the noting of the Senate Committee's report will receive the unanimous approval of the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative,

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