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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 1. 1969.

Muldoon Quizzed On Finance

Muldoon Quizzed On Finance

Criticism of university education by the Minister of Finance, Mr. R. D. Muldoon, must be answered, and must also be seen as part of a radical change in the, exercise of politics in New Zealand, senior lecturer in, education at Victoria University, Mr. Jack Shallcras said at Congress.

The Minister of Finance [unclear: had]rncd at Congress two days earlier that if university expenditure kept expanding along present lines it would reach a point where the share of resources demanded could not be provided by the Government.

Mr Shallcrass said major political figures, particularly the Minister of Finance, were now going to the public and bidding for support.

"If we don't take up the the argument, he will win by default," Mr Shallcrass said.

He said he welcomed the higher level of public debate being put forward, particularly by the Minister in the National Party. The change involved a break-down of the closed-circuit decision-making and administrative process between a powerful bureaucracy bound not to publicly opose government policy, and a locked-door cabinet

Media, particularly television, public committees, and expert groups like the National Development Conference were drawing the community into the decision-making process and eroding the centralised decision making. Ministers were putting their case to the public.

"Policies are being opened up. The decision process is being thrown open to the community," Mr Shallcrass said.

"We must share in this. We must have opinions and air them."

Mr Muldoon's criticism of the universities must be carefully assessed, Mr Shallcrass said. He dismissed the image of the Minister as "a hostile hatchet-man".

"This man, in a short public life, has changed his political personality. He has turned into a potential Prime Minister."

Discussing Mr Muldoon's argument on education, Mr Shallcrass said: "The Minister is asking bow we are going to spend, most efficiently, our money, He measures this by profit and loss national product this is his job." But Mr Shallcrass called the economic measurement of the worth of an individual "the basic weakness of Mr Muldoon's argument

"G.N.P. and profit and loss take no account of personal whims and changes in expectations," he said. "The processes of feeling, of intuition and imagination are as important as the intellect," he said.

Mr Muldoon was saying that entry to university must be made more selective even than the present "savage" system by which only 14 students out of every hundred entering secondary school pass the university entrance examination.

"I think this is going to happen by force of circumstance," Mr Shallcrass said. He considered an examination between secondary school and university likely for some university departments.

Mr Shallcrass questioned whether the measurement of intellect which the Minister said would be achieved was in fact a reliable method of measurement for human beings. He quoted one American study which showed that the ability to use knowledge in a comprehensive way developed with age.

If measurements of "worth" were too early, talented people could be chopped out.

"I am inclined to agree with the Minister that some things can be made more efficient," he said. "Universities could save a number of students by discovering what was going wrong and doing something about it."

• Congress Coverage P.2.