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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1698


Mr MacKELLAR (Warringah) - I would like to add briefly to the remarks made by the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley). We believe that there are 2 aspects of special importance which are contained in the amendment. Firstly, we believe - and this has been stressed by the honourable member for Chisholm - that it would assist in future planning, not necessarily at universities or colleges of advanced education, but at other educational institutions in Australia if this information was made available to the Australian Universities Commission as well as to members of this Parliament and the people of Australia. I think that those responsible for the expenditure of public funds have a duty to give to the people who provide the funds some readily available accountability as to what has happened following the expenditure of such funds. I would like to stress very strongly that we in no way suggest that the autonomy of universities should be cut down in any sense. What we are seeking to do is to ensure that information is provided for future planning purposes and, incidentally, information about the differing administrative procedures adopted by separate institutions.

There is no compulsion on any of these institutions to allocate any specific proportion of the funds made available either by way of grant or by way of loan. It is up to the institutions themselves to decide how the moneys will be allocated. What we are saying is that it would be of great use to know the effect of the differing procedures adopted by the separate institutions. One of the easiest ways in which this information can be made available is for the Government to adopt the amendments which have been moved by the Opposi tion. Most of the sections of the amendment mentioned by the honourable member for Chisholm relate directly to the administration of the scheme by the educational institutions. It may be thought that amendment (iv) which deals with the academic progress of students assisted by way of grant, loan or by any other means, impinges on the individual rights of students assisted. Let me make it clear that we do not intend that the individual student should be singled out for assessment and report by name. What we are seeking is a general return in response to the spending of money or the allocation of moneys to him to enable those assessing the results of the allocation of moneys to judge for themselves what result the allocation of moneys has had in lowering the failure rate which could be attributed to financial difficulties experienced by students.

I reiterate that the amendment fits in with 2 concepts which I believe are of great importance. Firstly there is the concept of reporting the results of the spending of public moneys so that the public can have a ready accessibility to information about the spending of those moneys. Secondly, I think it is most important that material is readily available to enable not only those people responsible for drawing up additional plans in the future to be able to make more informal decisions but also for those involved with policy formulation on both sides of the House to have this information' readily available.







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