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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 2479

The PRESIDENT - Order! The Chair has control of these matters. Senator Rae, I do not wish to interrupt your speech, but do you wish to withdraw your application for leave to incorporate the letter in Hansard?

Senator RAE - No. I wish to draw attention to one part in particular. The part to which I wish to draw attention is the final paragraph, which states:

The Commonwealth per capita grants to non-government schools in the States in respect of recurrent expenditure are being paid during 1 973 at the rates already approved- $62 per primary pupil and $104 per secondary pupil. In the 2 Territories the per capita rates are twice those in the States.

I pause there to comment that this Government, while taking away from schools in categories A to F, which represent over 53 per cent of all the children at non-systemic schools, gives increased aid to schools in the Territories. The schools in categories A to F are getting less then they would have under the 1972 Act. Perhaps the increased aid to schools in the Territories is given because the Government is frightened of the reaction which might come about in Canbera if it were to renege on its promise. The letter continues:

In the 2 Territories the per capita rates are twice those in the States. We wish the Interim Committee to make recommendations for contributions towards recurrent expenditure in nongovernment schools for 1974 and 1975 on the basis of its assessment of needs and priorities. In subsequent years this will be a matter for consideration by the Schools Commission. The effect of this decision is that the Government will not predetermine a basic level of support for all non-government schools after 1973.

That letter is a direct repudiation of the promises made repeatedly by the Labor Party prior to the election. It has repudiated its promises. It stands condemned for that repudiation. It is up to the Government to honour the promises and to see that there is justice for every Australian child and every Australian parent who wish to avail themselves of their right to choose the kind of education which the children are to receive.

Let me remind the Senate of what occurred. Mr Beazley, the Minister for Education, on 30 May this year expressed his personal view. It is reported in the House of Representatives Hansard at page 2844. The Minister said:

My view was that every school in the country, including the Geelong Grammar School, should receive a basic grant from the Commonwealth and that the Commonwealth should have an identity with the education of every child. If it has recommended, in good conscience, something that is different from that, it is its decision and not my directive.

That same man had directed Professor Karmel that this was not to be the situation. He had so directed the Professor in the paragraph of the letter which I have just read out. The Minister is a man with an incredible twist of mind if he is prepared to say that. It is interesting to note that on 30 August, when the Opposition raised a matter of urgency in the House of Representatives, following one a little earlier in this chamber, Mr Beazley did not deny a number of the promises which had been referred to. He said that he felt sure that the Labor Party would be conscious of its electoral obligations. But it has not been. To this day it remains not prepared to honor the obligations which it assumed when it made the promises before the election, and not prepared to honour the obligations which it assumed when, as a government, it repeated them after the election.

In the House of Representatives, the Opposition, being unable to move a request for an amendment or an amendment, indicated its opposition to the Government's rejection of its promises by voting against clause 66 of the Bill. In the Senate it is not necessary for us to take that course. We can indicate our wishes by moving a request for an amendment to clause 15, and we will do so at the appropriate stage. If that request for an amendment is carried, it will no longer be relevant for us to indicate our objection to clause 66 which seeks to terminate the 1972 legislation. Therefore, we shall not worry about clause 66. 1 repeat that the Opposition supports the whole of the Karmel Committee's report as to the allocation of funds. It wishes to see those funds made available at the first possible instance. I repudiate entirely these mis-statements and misrepresentations which have been made by the New South Wales Teachers Federation, among others, which would suggest that the Opposition in some way objects to what the Federation calls the poor schools of Australia receiving funds. We do not. When we were in government we had set about a program which would have involved extra money being made available to those schools. Now that we are in Opposition we will vote for this Bill which will provide extra money for these schools. We voted for it in the House of Representatives. We will vote for it in this chamber.

There is only one aspect to which I wish to return and that is if, in direct repudiation of the promises made many times by all those people to whom I have referred and many more, this Government intends to pursue this matter to an election, it will find itself having to face a situation in which the matter on which it has refused to act- a request by the Senate- is a matter on which it has refused to honour the promises made not once, not twice but many times before and after the election. I refer very briefly to an example for the benefit of some honourable senators opposite who seem to have tunnel vision in relation to this matter.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie)- Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.

Motion (by Senator Laucke) proposed:

That Senator Rae be granted an extension of time.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- All those in favour say aye, to the contrary no.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No.

Senator Laucke

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - How long does he think he will be?

Senator Webster - You refused to give him an extension of time and now you ask how long he will be.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Despite Senator Webster's interjection -

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Senator Websterwants everything said two or three times.

Senator Webster - It is only the lies repeated.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Despite Senator Webster's interjection, the fact is that the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast. There are speakers for and against a proposition.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I take a point of order. Yesterday Senator Webster accused me of lying and he was forced to withdraw his accusation. He is now doing the same thing without rising in his place, and I ask that he be put in his place and be told not to make such accusations.

Senator McManus - He did not mention anyone.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - He did. He called me a liar.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie)- I did not hear that.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is normal practice in the Senate that the honourable senator leading in a debate on a proposition be given half an hour. However, on this occasion Senator Rae suggests that he needs a little longer. We are prepared to agree to a reasonable addition to his normal speaking time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Senator RAE -I thank the Senate. I will be very brief. There is just one further point which I did wish to make because I think it is important in the consideration of what is involved in the debate. It has been suggested- I have refuted it already- that only category A schools are involved in the principle about which we are concerned. Schools in categories A, B, C, D, E and F are all to receive under this Bill less then they would have received under the 1972 legislation. Under our proposal- namely, that the Government honour its promise- schools in categories A, B, C, and D will all get more than they will under this Bill as it stands at the moment. The reason for the difference is that the States Grants (Schools) Act 1972 provided an automatic escalation which would have carried all of the schools up to an amount above that provided for schools in categories E and F under this present Bill.

I would like to give an example of a school which is involved in this scheme. I went to that school last Friday. It is a school which has S3 pupils. It is a school at which all of the children are the children of migrants. It is a school at which most of the children are the children of working mothers or families on lower or lower to middle incomes. Most of the mothers of these children work so that they can pay the school fees. That is their reason for working. It is a religious school. It is a school which believes devoutly and firmly that the only sort of education which should be given to the children who attend it is the type of education which involves the particular religion available at that school. It is their right of choice in a free society. It is their right of choice in a society which believes that people have the freedom to worship and to believe as they choose. That is a right which should be protected by this Parliament. It is a right which is sacred in a democracy.

Notwithstanding the fact that the parents of those 53 children who attend this small school in a suburb of Melbourne were promised by a very eminent member of the Labor Party Cabinet just before the last election that if they voted Labor they would get much more money- they were told they would get nearly double- the school has been placed in category A and gets nothing because of the absurdity of the basis upon which the categorisation takes place. I give that school as an example because people talk about wealthy schools. I will take any pressman, any member of the chamber or any member of the public who wants to talk about wealthy schools in category A out to that school to see it. They can then see whether it is wealthy. Have a look at

Marbury College; have a look at the Australian Independent School in Sydney; have a look at Loreto Convent in Portland; have a look at any one of two dozen or three dozen schools that I could suggest and see whether they are wealthy schools. Having seen those schools, who would claim that they should be categorised as being wealthy? Yet, they are all receiving reduced or no aid under the scheme of this Government which wishes to break its promises, given so many dmes last year and repeated again after it came to power. The Opposition will stand firm on a principle in which it believes and in which I believe the majority of Australians believe; namely, the right of choice and the right to receive a basic grant towards education to enable the children of Australia to enjoy that choice.

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