PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 900


Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 05/03/1964

Release Type: Statement in Parliament

Transcript ID: 900

M. P.
[ From the " Parliamentary Debates," 5th March, 1964] 1
Ministerial Statement.
Prime Minister)-by leave-At the last
Federal elections the Government placed
ef oe the people of Australia plans to
sst the provision and equipment of
scibnce teaching laboratories in secondary
schools. It was made clear that the assistance
to be provided for such purposes would
be available to all schools with a complete
-bsence of any discrimination. Procedures
) achieve this end have now been discussed
with all of the States-naturally this
has taken some little timne-and there is
agreement that they raise no special
problem for any State, although the
Tasmanian Minister for Education has
indicated that he would prefer the distribution
to the States to be on the basis
of secondary school enrolments rather than
State Populations as we intend. Where
necessary, all States will co-operate with
the Commonwealth in the carrying out of
the scheme.
The amount for the purpose is œ E5,000,000
annually and it is intended to divide the
amount each year between Government
schools and non-Government schools. The
division will be made by obtaining the numbers
of secondary school pupils enrolled
2929/ 64. in Government schools and the numbers
of secondary school pupils enrolled in non-
Government schools and dividing the total
amount of money available in proportion
to those numbers as certified by the Coinmionwealth
Statistician. This will be done
on an Australia-wide basis and would at
present result in a sum of the order of
œ 3,750,000 being available for Government
secpndary -schools throughout Australia and
a sum of the order of œ 1,250,000 being
available for non-Government schools
throughout Australia. The sum available
for Government schools will then be allotted
to the various State Governments in proportion
to the population of the States as
certified by the Commonwealth Statistician.
Allotment will be made by way of a
grant under Section 96 of the Constitution
and the recipient State will be entirely
responsible for spending the sum allotted
it in ways which, in its opinion, best suit
the requirements of education in that State.
The grant will, however, be made subject
to the conditions that it can only be spent
on the provision of science teaching laboratories
in secondary schools or the provision
of capital equipment for such laboratories.
and it will be subject to the further condition
that the items on which it is spent,
and the source of the funds so spent, are

clearly identifiable in the State Budget. The
Commonwealth has made it clear to the
States that it expects the sums so provided
to be regarded as supplementary and additional
to sums which the State would
normally provide for education. Money
for these purposes will be made available
in the 1964-65 Budget, that is to say, in the
financial year beginning on 1st July, 1964.
The States have been made aware of this
and are no doubt in process of preparing
their plans for the expenditure of the money
to be available to them for these purposes.
In the case of non-Government schools,
the Commonwealth will be solely responsible
for deciding grants. To do so it will adopt
the following procedures: First, it will allot
the amount available for non-Government
schools among the States having regard to
the population of each State, though in
later years it may be necessary not to be
too strictly bound in this regard, because
some States may be rather more advanced
than others in this field. The amount
available for each State will then be
divided into two parts. I am talking now
about the non-Government schools. One
part will be for assistance to non-Catholic
schools within the boundaries of that State
and the other part for assistance to Catholic
schools within the boundaries of that State.
I have used that expression as these are
rather awkward phrases. There are some
non-Catholic schools which are under
church foundation and some which are not.
For example, as some of my colleagues
know, there is the Sydney Grammar School.
This division will be made by obtaining the
number of secondary school pupils enrolled
in non-Catholic schools and the number
of secondary school pupils enrolled in
Catholic schools and dividing the sum avail-
: able in proportion to those numbers as
certified by the Commonwealth Statistician.
The Government will preserve some flexibility
in this procedure so that the division
may, as necessary, be adapted to the needs
of schools for science buildings and equipm.
ent as the scheme develops. There will
thus be for non-Government schools within
the boundaries of each State a sum for
assistance to non-Catholic schools and a
: sum for assistance to Catholic schools.
All secondary schools, whether boys'
schools, girls' schools or co-educational
schools are eligible to receive assistance, and any science teaching laboratory the
construction' of which began after 1st
December, 1963-that is the day after the
election-is a building eligible to be considered
for assistance. No such building
which was constructed before 1st December,
1963, or which was in course of construction
at that date, will however, ' be
considered as eligible to receive assistance.
A school is, however, eligible to apply for
assistance for capital equipment bought after
1st December, 1963. Money for these
purposes will be made available in the
1964-65 Commonwealth Budget; that
during the financial year beginning Ist July,
1964. Schools which are eligible for
assistance and which seek assistance should
therefore make application for such assistance
as soon as possible. Applications
should be made to the Minister in Charg
of Commonwealth Activities in Education,-"
Prime Minister's Department, East Block,
Canberra. It is clear that very many independent
schools will be seeking assistance and that
the Commonwealth will not in the first years
of the scheme-at least in its early yearsand
despite the funds available, as one might
say, in one stroke, be able to assist all
schools that are eligible. It is intended
therefore to select in each State schools to
be regarded as those which fall into
category meriting first consideration fo
assistance. This selection will be done bvythe
Commonwealth having regard to the
number of secondary school pupils at a
school, the number of such students doing
science courses, the teaching facilitie'
already available and similar criteria. Ever
so, all schools falling within this category
will not be able to be assisted initially and
it will be necessary to allot priorities to such
schools within each State's boundaries.
For this purpose, the Commonwealth
hopes to create, within each State's
boundaries, two advisory bodies. One body,
drawn from those responsible for non-
Catholic schools, will be asked to suggest
priorities for such schools and, subject to
the standards proposed being acceptable to
the Commonwealth, to advise on the
amount of assistance extended to each
school. The other body, drawn from those
responsible for Catholic schools, will be
asked to do the same for such schools.
I may say that my colleague, Senator

Gorton, who has been doing a great deal
of work on this, has already discussed this
matter considerably with these representative
groups. When grants are decided by the
Commonwealth they will be made to a
State under section 96 of the Constitution.
I am now talking about non-State secondary
schools. The State concerned would act
as agent for the Commonwealth for the
purposes of payment and would not itself
accept any responsibility for making such
grants. I should, perhaps, emphasize that
these advisory bodies have not yet been set
and . it will be my colleague's next task
-o conduct talks for the purpose of setting
them up. He has already had quite a few
of these. But, in the meantime, so that
honorable members may know the lines on
-which the Commonwealth is proceeding and
) that schools which require assistance may
m-lake application without dela'y, I believe
it appropriate to make this statement in
this place.
I might add that the question of the
standard to which a laboratory ought to
be built, or at least the standard for which
Commonwealth funds should be supplied,
is one that ' has received our attention. For
advice on this matter we are setting up a
small committee which we have asked Mr.
L. C. Robson to chair. Mr. Robson is a
-former headmaster of Sydney Church of
S" gland Grammar School. He is a very
-camous headmaster, with a scientific background,
who has had much experience of
these matters in his capacity of Chairman
of the Committee of Advice of the
-1ndustrial Fund, of which most honorable
jembers will have heard, which has been
engaged for some years in assisting independent
schools to build science teaching laboratories. This committee will be available
to give advice, when asked, to schools
planning to build science laboratories and
will be responsible for advising the
Commonwealth as to suitable and
reasonable standards for laboratories for
particular numbers of students and
Commonwealth assistance will be limited to
providing, or assisting to provide, funds
necessary to build to that standard. This
is the situation regarding this matter at this
moment. I shall keep honorable members
informed of progress in the setting up in
each State of -the advisory bodies to which
I have referred.
In conclusion-this is, I think, a most
interesting and just experiment-there are
a number of different procedures which
could be adopted for making the various
divisions between State Governments
referred to in what I have said. The one
set out earlier appears to the Commonwealth
to meet requirements most nearly
and has been agreed to by five of the
States. It will be the basis used for the
first year of operation. But this is a new
scheme. It must be tested in operation.
In subsequent years it may develop that the
State Governments would -prefer the
Commonwealth to consider some other
system of division between them. If they
do agree that some other system is
preferable in the future, and provided
that the Commonwealth is satisfied
that an agreed proposal is just to all, the
Commonwealth will always be prepared to
listen to suggestions designed to make the
scheme operate harmoniously and to the
greatest benefit of the greatest number of
Australian students.

Transcript 900