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Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Page: 2255

Senator PETER BAUME(5.55) —Am I to take it, then, that an independent statutory commission has taken a decision on its own that it will apply a test of political affiliation and, on the basis of that test, will determine the order in which parliamentarians receive information? If that is so-that is what the Minister has said-it is disgraceful. The Committee should be aware that it is one thing for a Minister and her Department-a department which may be responsible directly to her and for which she may be answerable-to take a decision, it is another thing for an independent statutory commission to take such a decision. The decision was taken by the Commonwealth Schools Commission not as a result of ministerial direction-we found that the Minister had no power of direction-but on its own, exercising its own judgment of what was best for education. I believe that it has been recreant in its duty and that this is quite disgraceful. Is the Minister able to tell us whether the Commission has received more than 80 requests from senators and members who would fail the political affiliation test of belonging to the Australian Labor Party that they be provided with the information about grants in their electorates or States? What decision has the Commission taken in dealing with those requests?