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Thursday, 21 September 1972
Page: 1103

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Education and .Science been drawn to Press reports of a so-called demonstration of pupil power by small groups of high school students in Australian cities? Has this socalled demonstration been aided, abetted and encouraged by some prominent Australians who have advocated the defiance of authority and who have stated that authority has had its day? Is the wilful destruction by fire of property, school ties, belts, etc., the action of responsible youth? Will the Government consider withdrawing all forms of educational aid from these small minority groups because it is a waste of taxpayers' money, apparently not needed and certainly not appreciated?

Senator WRIGHT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Works) - An alarming state of affairs is portrayed by an article in today's 'Australian' headed 'Defiant students on march', together with a photograph showing a heap of ties, belts and gloves being burnt by students said to be as a protest. I noticed too, that participation in these demonstrations has been reported to include Dr M. H. Cass, a Labor member of this Parliament from Victoria, as well as others. It seems to be a strange form of insanity, along the lines of recent publications which are deliberately subversive of respect for authority even at the school stage. The purpose of schooling, I should have thought, was, amongst other things, to teach the lessons of self discipline. It is very inconsistent with the protests against violence that we have heard in the Senate in recent days. This sort of behaviour is calculated to encourage, at the very beginnings of life, the use of violence, fire and destruction for purposes of demonstration. I deplore it. I hope that every influence will be brought to bear to teach the folly of it. With regard to the third part of Senator Lawrie's question, we ought to remember that appropriations for scholarships and allowances provided by the Commonwealth Government this year amount to $56m. Only 4 years ago the appropriation was half that amount - $28m. That increase has been made to enable young people to get access to education of various suitable forms. I can give the honourable senator only this assurance: The progress of the scholar in educational achievement is the test by which the continuance of that scholarship is determined from year to year. His discipline in the school is a matter for the school authority.

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