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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 698

Senator MACKLIN —I seek leave to make a statement concerning a newspaper report.

Leave granted.

Senator MACKLIN —In the Canberra Times of Saturday last, in an article headed ' Student Union Bill Criticised', I was quoted as saying that my Party would ' certainly be supporting the Opposition amendments'. However, in my speech recorded in Hansard of last Friday, I stated:

The Australian Democrats strongly support the notion of voluntary organisation. We believe that it is a fundamental aspect of any society that membership of any organisation . . . be on a voluntary basis.

. . . .

. . . it is very clear from the responsible officers of both the ANU and the CCAE that there will be . . . no compulsory element . . . Officers . . . have assured me that it is their continuing policy . . . that there will be no compulsory payment as a condition of enrolment.

. . . .

Indeed, without that assurance the Australian Democrats would not have agreed to vote for the Bills.

I also indicated:

. . . the Australian Democrats will support the Government on this legislation with the proviso that we support it only because those institutions have indicated that they will not be requiring compulsory membership.

Not only did I state that on Friday, but when a vote was taken just after 4 p.m. on Friday the Australian Democrats opposed the only amendment put by the Opposition. Australian Associated Press Pty Ltd has accepted responsibility for the story and I understand went to a great deal of trouble to correct the error once it was discovered. I accept AAP's assurances on that. Unfortunately, the story was still carried in the Canberra Times and it created an impression contrary to the facts.