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Thursday, 27 April 1961

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - Yesterday, I gave an answer to the House relating to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The position so far as the Australian National University is concerned is this: The Australian National University has been a public authority for the purposes of the Crimes Act ever since 1946, when the Australian National University was first incorporated. There has been no change in this part of the law as it affects the university. The second part of the question that was asked by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro yesterday was whether the Attorney-General's Department had conveyed its opinion on the Crimes Act to the university itself, particularly with regard to any restrictions on the right of discussion. No, Sir, it has not. According to the information made available to me the Australian National University has not asked for any such information. In the third part of his question, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro asked whether there had been any change in section 70 of the Crimes Act as to the right of discussion within the university. Again I answer, " No, Sir ". The legislation amending the Crimes Act did not in any way alter the right of members of the National University to engage in free discussion. The only limitation on their power of discussion or the dissemination of information is with respect to official information which comes into their hands or into their minds, in respect of which they are under an obligation to maintain secrecy or not to disclose.

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