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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2184

OPENING OF THE NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL AT CHRISTIAN BROTHERS COLLEGE, WAVERLEY NSW - 15 FEBRUARY 1970 - SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, MR JOHN GORTON

Photo of Gorton, John

Gorton, John

Period of Service: 10/01/1968 to 10/03/1971

More information about Gorton, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 15/02/1970

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2184

QPE" ING OF THE NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL AT
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS COLLEGE,
WAVERLEY, N. S. W, FEBRUARY 1970
Speech by the. Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton
Mr Chairman, Your Grace, Parliamentary Colleagues both Federal and
State, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
May I thank you for the warmth of your welcome and thank you
in particular, Brother Simmons, for what you had to say and tell you that I regard
this occasion to be an honour for me and one which gives me great satisfaction.
I regard it as an honour because I have been asked to be associated
today with those who planned and worked and strove and finally completed their
task. And I find it of immense satisfaction, because as I look at this new block
and cast my mind into the future, I believe there will come from it and from the
resources which it includes, hundreds and hundreds of young men into the
Australian community, better educated than they would otherwise have been. I
believe they will be inculcated with the desire to put their talents and their
privileges at the service of their country, and contributing to this nation not to
any segment of it but to this nation more than they would have been able to
contribute had this building not beetr conjtrucfed.
This, of course, is a special day for Waverley. It is a concrete
illustration of the advances now being made in educational thinking, in educational
techniques, and in the application of technology to make teaching more easy, more
interesting, more satisfying and more comprehensive. It is, too, a shining example
of the use of funds, both private and public, to the best possible advantage from the
poin . t of view of getting value for every dollar spent.
This Middle School block, Sir, is a notable addition to a notable
school, a school with a long history and fine tradition. And I would like to
congratulate Brother Simmons and his staff and the members of the College Advisory
Council on what they have achieved and what we see before us today as a result of
that achievement. I think, too, that this is a justification if justification were needed
of the policies of governments, both State and Commonwealth but I speak for the
Commonwealth of the policies adopted towards providing encouragement and some
assistance to Independent schools; a policy based, I believe, on principles of
justice, of economic commonsense, and of an appreciation of how best to serve
the true interests of education generally throughout our nation. a. / 2

Allow me for a moment to set before you what in fact that policy
towards education is, because there seems to be some mistaken belief growing
in the community, some mistaken idea that governments are only providing
help to independent schools, that such schools are the pampered darlings of the
Commonwealth Government and this is not true.
It is true that Commonwealth spending on education in Australia
has risen to $ 22 a head of population from some $ 4 ten years ago, but the vast
majority of this sum and the vast majority of this increase is provided for
sectors of public education, and that should be borne constantly in mind. Science
blocks have been provided throughout Australia to all secondary schools, which
means that 75 per cent of all monetary provision for this has gone to public, not
to independent, schools. Libraries a programme now getting well under way, but still
to be brought to full fruition are being provided to all secondary schools
throughout Australia, which means some 75 per cent of the finances provided goes
to State and not to independent schools. Expenditure on secondary technical
education, so essential for the future of our nation, is almost entirely confined
to'government schools. Teacher training colleges are provided with unmatched
funds by the Commonwealth, on condition that ten per cent of the places reserved
in them for trainees are reserved for those who will teach in independent schools.
In colleges of advanced education, in assistance to universities,
the public sector is the sector which receives all expenditure.
So no-one can say that the needs of publi c education are being
in any way ignored, and that is the first point which I wish to make.
Yet there are those who oppose any assistance being given to
independent schools, who oppose the provision of science blocks to such schools,
of libraries to such schools and, more particularly, oppose the recent provision
of assistance towards the running costs of such schools.
I believe that those who so oppose this policy are completely
wrong. I can understand though I would entirely reject an argument advanced
in some quarters that there should be no private independent schools allowed.
That at least is a simple argument, and, I think, simply refuted. But I cannot
understand the argument which would say to some Australian citizens " Although
you have paid your full share of taxation for a public school system which you do
not use, thereby relieving the strain on it; although you have paid additional
charges and are paying them to provide a school of a type which you prefer
although you are doing all this, yet you should nevertheless be prohibited from
receiving any assistance at all from the taxation revenue to which you have
contributed. This seems to me to be entirely unjust, and that is why I said
earlier that our policy is based on principles of justice the policy of giving
some assistance. vo e. / 3

And the economic argument which supports the provision of
assistance to independent schools is irrefutable. How much more would be
required from the taxpayers of Australia if there were to be no private schools
tomorrow, and those who attended them were to be moved to a state system
tomorrow? What great sums would be required, not to improve the existing
state schools, but merely to keep them at their present standards? I think
the economic argument and the commonsense are quite unassailable.
But moving to the interests of education, you, Brother Simmons,
said that what was required of our educational institutions was that they should
have independence, that they should seek for excellence and that they should
be able to experiment and to have variety. What better way can these ideals
be achieved than by having a state school system on the one hand, and independent
school systems on the other, so that there is no risk of uniformity being applied
by a central education department. There is an opportunity for innovations
suich as we have seen here today, and innovations not only from independent
schools they can come both from state and independent but innovations which
once they are made and once they have been proved to be successful, are not
confined to the sector which made those innovations, but are available for the
whole broad field of education throughout Australia.
So both from the point of view of justice, of economic commonsense,
and of serving the. interests of education, I believe the policies of
assistance which have been adopted are right, and I assure you that those policies
will continue and will not be changed,
There are those who think that by expressing disagreement and
opposition to these policies, which they have a perfect right to do, they are
serving the interests of the state sector of education. It may well be indeed
I believe it is that if they were to achieve the objectives they seek, they
would not be defending government schools at all, but merely preventing the
improvement of government schools, which will be able the more quickly to
be improved if the independent schools are provided some assistance over and
above the burdens borne by those who support them, to enable more of the
taxpayers! dollars to be left to improve the state school system itself.
We as a government are not interested in just one sector of
education. We are, as you know, awaiting the report of an enquiry by all state
governments into the needs of education, both in state schools and in
independent schools throughout Australia. We believe that the method of such
an inquiry by each state government is the best way to carry it out. We know
that there are further improvements required to primary and secondary
education generally. And we will, as time and opportunity permit, seek to play
our part with State Governments in this field. But because we are interested in
the whole field of education state as well as independent we will not turn
our backs on our interest in the independent sector. a o. a / 4

May I, Sir, before I declare the Middle School open, merely
say this That as long as there are throughout Australia people who are prepared
to give of their income, to give of their time, to give of their effort in order to
try to create better opportunities for education, then I think that we can face
the future with a high heart. Because there will come from all our schools in
greater numbers those better able to grapple with the new problems which will
face us, those provided with the technical skills to harness the inventions now
being made for the service of mankird, and those with a belief in rightness, in
service and in dedication which must be the true end and requirement of education
in whatever school that education may take place.
And now, Sir, I have great satisfaction in moving to the tablet
and declaring open this new Middle School of Waverley College.

Transcript 2184