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Wednesday, 3 April 1957


Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) .- I feel, after Us ten ing to the speech of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) that there are a few things I ought to say in this debate, because a great many people must be appalled at the legislation recently passed by the Queensland Parliament with regard to the University of Queensland. Appointments to the staff of a university are not, I think, in the same category as many other appointments. After all, the dominant factor in the selection of persons for appointment to a university staff is the need to secure people of the highest qualifications, and in most universities a very careful process of selection is carried out, chiefly, 1 think, by the professorial board of the university, and the appointments are finally made by the Senate, lt is not merely a question of casually calling for applications. Quite often, if the position to be filled is an important one, efforts will be made to secure the appointment of some very prominent person from another institution, either overseas or within this country. Highly confidential reports on the applicants, or those sought for the position, are secured from all sorts of people in prominent positions, and the net result of this is to secure for a university a staff of high quality. If this whole process, which has been built up as a tradition and a highly effective method of appointing skilled and qualified people to university staffs all over the British world, is disturbed, the only result on an Australian university which has given every promise of being one of the foremost universities in the Commonwealth must inevitably be to destroy the level of efficiency of the stall and to destroy the confidence of the Australian people in the qualifications and standing of that university. It is a most melancholy thing to think that, for the sake of some doctrinaire principle, this normal process, whereby highly qualified people can be attracted to the staff of the University of Queensland for the benefit of learning and education in that State, is to be overthrown. I say, quite plainly, that if this kind of thing is to persist, there will not be applications from men of quality and standing for appointments to the staff of the University of Queensland. This is borne out by the violent reaction which this legislation has caused in Queensland.

The Senate of the University of Queensland is largely, I may say, a governmentappointed senate, but 1 understand that not only the senate, but also the staff and the student body are virtually unanimous in their opposition to the legislation. More than that, may I say in conclusion that it is quite apparent that the Labour party in Queensland is itself bitterly divided over this matter, and that there have been quite violent attacks on the State Labour Government by prominent members of the Labour movement in Queensland for pursuing this course of action, which can only result in the destruction of the standards of a fine university.







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