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Friday, 7 September 1984
Page: 682

Senator TEAGUE(3.53) —I support the amendment moved by my colleague, Senator Peter Baume. The Minister for Education and Youth Affairs ( Senator Ryan) has appealed to two principles. I accept the principles, nevertheless I go on to quarrel. The principles which she puts forward are good principles; that there ought to be real autonomy in higher education institutions and that there ought to be a broad concept of the nature and value of a university or college education. Both are good principles but the Minister is using such high ground to defend what is nevertheless a direct political pay- off given in undertakings, particularly to left-wing students in universities, that Labor would overcome the amendments the Fraser Government introduced in 1979 and 1981. This is a political undertaking. All who have spoken in this debate have said that as of 1985 it is likely, given the responsibility and stability in the university and college involved, that it will not make much practical difference. The only difference arises if there is a relapse or a regression. Whilst I welcome the two principles of this high ground the Minister seeks to stand upon, the Government is blinking the eye at the real intent, which is the political objective of living up to an undertaking given to left wing students in universities and colleges. The requirements of this Minister and this Government for funding to be received by the universities and colleges in Australia deny that the Minister is on high ground. There are various incursions on the autonomy of higher educational institutions of which we have seen evidence in the last 18 months which are dictating to universities the requirements of this Government. The argument put by my colleague is sustained by all of us in the Opposition. We implore the Minister genuinely to take up the high ground that she affects to in this debate.

I look constructively to how funding for these matters may be treated in the years ahead and I will make a distinction with what my colleague Senator Baume said. I agree with him, and of course with the words in this amendment, in that any fees which are levied ought to be voluntary so that student unionism is entirely voluntary. However, I reiterate what I said in my speech in the second reading debate on this matter, that the provision of facilities for community, recreational, sporting and educational activities should be provided for directly by the university and college budget. This would mean that the second principle to which the Minister has alluded, that of universities and colleges maintaining a broad concept of the nature and value of a university education, will not be put in jeopardy. If there is a small difference with Senator Baume--

Senator Peter Baume —There is not really a difference.

Senator TEAGUE —I am glad to hear that he thinks there is not a difference. There would be the provision of grassed ovals and changing rooms for sporting activities but the costs of a hockey club or football club would be provided by its membership; the facility would be provided and maintained by the university' s budget. I take this opportunity in the debate at the Committee stage to look ahead, even to the next Budget, and to appeal to the Minister, if she is still in her present portfolio-and to my colleague Senator Baume or anyone else who is in that situation-to change the structure of funding facilities so that it takes into account what I have argued here.