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Wednesday, 3 April 1957

Mr HULME (Petrie) .- I wish to support the remarks that have been made by the honorable members for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and Ryan (Mr. Drury) in relation to this recent amendment of Queensland legislation to provide for the appointment of an appeals board in respect of appointments to the University of Queensland. I think the House should be told why that has been done. It appears that a person who had the ear of some members of the Labour party and who had some influence with the Queensland Labour Government applied unsuccessfully for a position in the Queensland University. Then, because the man had influence, the State Government brought down this legislation.

It is very similar to the legislation that was brought down by that government to regulate the licensing of club premises in Queensland. It so happened that one person was nominated by the Premier of Queensland for membership of one club and that another person, very prominent in the Queensland Labour party, was nominated for membership of another club, but each was rejected by the members of the club concerned as a person whom the members generally, or a percentage of them, regarded as being unsuitable for membership. As a result, the Queensland Labour Government brought down legislation which contained almost prohibitive provisions concerning the number of members necessary for a club to obtain a liquor licence. Those are two illustrations of the kind of influence that some individuals have with a government that has been in power for so long and that has abused its power so much. I believe that the establishment of an appeals board for the Queensland University is nothing but an act of extreme vindictiveness on the part of the Queensland Government.

The Commonwealth has an interest in the universities of this country in that it provides them with financial assistance. Assistance is given under the Commonwealth scholarships scheme and through tax reimbursements. We must also have regard to the fact that only a short time n<*o the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated that he had appointed a commission to investigate the present and future financial circumstances of the universities. So I think it is open to this Parliament to consider the kind of legislation that was passed so recently by the Queensland Parliament.

The House has been told already of the composition of the appeals board, but T think it justifies repetition. There are to be three members, one to represent the Senate of the University and another to represent the appellant - that is, an applicant who has not been successful in obtaining an appointment. It can be assumed that in many cases the votes of those two members will cancel out. The third member, the chairman, will be a senior public servant appointed by the Queensland Government. What an invidious position for a public servant! He may be called upon to arbitrate on the appointment of a person to a professorship, a lectureship or another position in the university. He will have no idea of the requirements of the position, or qualifications of the person who has lodged the appeal to fill it, yet he will be called upon to adjudicate on the decision of the Senate of the university, on the one hand, and on the person who is aggrieved, on the other hand.

In those circumstances, what attitude will be adopted by people overseas and by people in this country who are qualified for appointment to positions in the Queensland University? I say quite definitely that no such person will resign from the position which he now occupies to take up a position in the Queensland University when an unsuccessful applicant can lodge an objection and. if the objection succeeds, the person originally appointed will be removed from his post and, having resigned the post which he occupied previously at another university or institution, he will be compelled to look for another.

What I am saying is not something drawn frommyimagination. Let me quote the wordsused by Dr. John Tyrer. the Pro- fessor of Medicine at the Queensland Uni- versity. in a letter which he wrote to the Brisbane " Courier-Mail " and which was publishedon 2nd April - only vesterday. Inhisletter, he said -

Hadtheuniveristy Appeals Board clause been lawwhen applications for the ChairofMedicine inQueensland were called, I would not have applied.

I think that is the attitude of many people in the university. I believe that many people who might otherwise have applied for positions in the university will not. in fact apply. As the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) points out to me, persons with high qualifications certainly would not willingly place themselves in the position that could arise under this kind of legislation.

The Queensland Minister for Public Instruction, endeavouring to justify the action of the State Government, said in a broadcast made last week-end that there should always be provision for appeals. No statement by a member of the Queensland Government could have been more ludicrous than that. At this moment, probably the Queensland Parliament is debating a bill which will do away with one-brand petrol stations in that State.

Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!

Mr HULME - That is the view of the members of the Opposition. I point out that that bill makes no provision for a right of appeal. I point out also that there is no right of appeal from the decisions of the authority set up by the Queensland Government which gave rise to the petrol dispute of recent times. I refer, of course, to the price-fixing authority in that State. One man has the power to determine prices, and there is no right of appeal from his decisions. Yet we had that nonsense last weekend from the Queensland Minister for Public Instruction about a right of appeal for a person whose application for appointment to a university post is rejected.

The Premier of Queensland has said that his government is entitled to do this because it provides 54 per cent. of the finance of the Queensland University. Does he realize that the Commonwealth Government provides 55 per cent. or 60 per cent. of the finances of the Queensland Government? If we applied that process of reasoning, we should have control of what is done administratively or legislatively by the Queensland Government. I believe that this legislation is nothing more than democratic socialism at work. However, from one point of view, it is a good thing.

Mr Haylen - I rise to order. I think that honorable members on this side of the House have been very patient. You are well aware, Mr. Speaker, first, that the actions of a sovereign State cannot be discussed in this House with any effectiveness, anu secondly, that there is an item on the notice-paper concerning university grunts. The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) dealt with university grants and then digressed to discuss petrol stations. I base my point of order on those two grounds.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Petrie must confine his remarks to the question of scholarships. He was off the beam when he dealt with petrol stations, but he dropped that subject before I could call him to order. He will be in order provided he confines his remarks to (scholarships and does not anticipate the debate on any other item on the noticepaper.

Mr HULME - I am nearly at the end of my remarks. When 1 was interrupted by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) I was saying that, from one point of view, it is not a bad thing that the Labour government of one of the States bad shown the people of that State what democratic socialism really means when it comes to legislation. In conclusion, I say that I believe that the Commonwealth Government will be entitled to take this kind of action into consideration when it is determining its own actions for the future.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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