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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 953

Senator BAUME (New South Wales) - One of the proudest claims cf the Whitlam Labor Government is the program it has introduced for the support of schools on a basis of need. I am interested in the case of a particular school in New South Wales which I would like to recount to the Senate for a few moments.

Senator Poyser - Why do you noi write a letter?

Senator BAUME - That has been done and it is fair enough to raise this matter. If we look at the conclusion arrived at in the Karmel Committee's report of the situation in New South Wales we find that 105 schools were originally given an A classification, which is the classification for the most wealthy schools for which support for recurrent expenditure was to be withdrawn after a given time, and for which recurrent expenditure was at the smallest level while the grants were to continue. Among those schools were many of the very wealthy schools in New South Wales. After appeals were made, 50 schools remained in that category. Among those schools were such schools as Ascham, Cranbrook, Kambala, Kings. Presbyterian Ladies College, Pymble, Sydney Grammar and Sydney Grammar Preparatory- all the wealthy schools in New South Wales. Among the schools that appealed, many of the wealthy schools obtained a lower classification. There is a school- the Rabinovitch Yeshivah College at Bondi-which was classified A and which remained classified A after appeals were made, i went out to examine this school because I thought, when its Principal rang me and asked for help, that it must be a very luxurious establishment, well set up. It is an extremely poor school. If the Government is sincere in its claim that it is operating on a basis of needs this school is a school that deserves and requires recurrent support.

This school was mentioned in the Senate last year by Senator McManus, who drew attention to some of its problems. It is a school which takes people from poor families. Most of the students there come from working class families. It is not a wealthy school. The uniforms of the pupils indicate that. The school is housed in the basement of a synagogue in some old cottages which are undergoing conversion. It is a very small school.

It was classified A only because its pupil-teacher ratio, on the formula adopted, put it into the A classification. There is no doubt that this school is in need of recurrent support and if the Government is sincere it should receive this support. On looking at the list of schools that appealed against their classifications and had their classifications moved down, I was surprised to see that such a school as the Armidale School, which is one of the great public schools, was reclassified from A to C. It is a wealthy school compared to this one. Barker College at Hornsby, which is one of the wealthiest schools in Sydney, was reclassified from B to C. Chevalier College at Bowral was reclassified to F. The New England Girls School, which is a private girls school at Armidale, was reclassified from A to D. Newington College at Stanmore, which is one of the great public schools and one of the schools for the privileged rich, was reclassified from A to B.

It seems totally inappropriate that those schools, which quite clearly are wealthy schools, should be able to get a reclassification and larger support for their recurrent expenditure when another school which is small and struggling is unable to get the same kind of support. I do not object to the needs concept. The Labor Party is in government. It puts out the program and it determines which schools are in need. I am merely putting to the Minister that here is a case of genuine need. If the Government is sincere, I want it to look at ways of giving support to this school. I believe that the formula that has been adopted has not filled the bill. It is not good enough for the Government to say: 'We have a formula and any school that cannot meet this formula clearly is not in need'. That is not the approach. The Government says that it is looking for genuine need and that it will respond to genuine need. I am telling the Government that the Yeshivah school at Bondi is genuinely in need of recurrent grants and recurrent support. So far it has received no kind of support from the Government. It has received no indication that it will receive any support. All I ask the Government to do is to look into some way of finding a formula to recognise genuine need where it exists and to find some way of helping this school.

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