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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 875


Senator TEAGUE(12.02) —The Government wishes to remove section 32A from the Australian National University Act. This section guarantees students and citizens of this country three things-admission, enrolment and non- discrimination. I believe it is unthinkable that a university could fail to admit a student to a course, fail to enrol a student in a course or fail to mark examination papers or give results, or in any way interfere with the normal educational progress through a university, on the grounds that the person, for conscientious reasons, chooses not to be a member of an association that he or she finds offensive. I believe it is unthinkable for a university to interfere with admission or enrolment activities by discriminating in this way. The Government, by advocating the removal of the section of the Act which provides for a guarantee, is saying 'Yes, let the university have the power not to admit; let the university have the power not to enrol; and let the university be able to discriminate', because this guarantee would stand in the way of that.

I said in my speech on the second reading of this Bill that no one can sustain an argument for the removal of this guarantee. I believe that the Minister is not offended by the principles relating to the guarantee provisions of section 32A. The Minister, to this point, has not said that anything in section 32A offends. The Minister will have a chance when she speaks in a moment to specify whether there is any phrase or part of section 32A which offends her. We will be very interested to hear what she says. Maybe she will add a rejoinder if she thinks there is. As far as we are concerned there is nothing in section 32A that offends. All that section 32A does is give a guarantee that students' progress academically in university will not be interfered with on the basis of their conscientious withdrawal from an association of students. Therefore, at this late stage, as I did at the beginning of the second reading debate, I urge that section 32A be retained in the legislation.