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Wednesday, 17 October 1956

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) .- I had not intended to speak on this bill, but the intervention of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) compels me to do so. I am sorry that he has put the Opposition's attack on the plane on which he has put it. It seems to me to be immaterial, if the attack has been made on the basis of a defence of socialized institutions, whether the observatory is in the hands of a socialized government department or a socialized university. But that was not the basis on which the Opposition launched its attack at all. The basis, which has been clearly put by every speaker on this side of the House, is that this institution has existed for a great number of years, apparently successfully, under the control of a government department; now, for no good and adduced reason, the Government proposes to hand it over to the control of the Australian National University.

The suggestion has been made that, if this is done, the status of some or all of the staff will be increased. It would seem that this is a sort of hole-in-the-corner method of giving certain sections of the Public Service increases in salary to which they may be entitled, but which they had not sought in the proper way, and which, if given to them, might be used as a lever for other worthy public servants to get increases of salary. If that be the low motive, I suggest that it lies, not with the Opposition, but with the Government. Therefore, on behalf of the Opposition, I repeat that our opposition to this bill is due to the fact that no good and sufficient reasons have been given as to why this change should be made in the control of an institution that seems to have been functioning successfully over the years, traditionally organized as a government department.

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