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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 3944


Mr MacKELLAR (Warringah) is the mandatory appointment of those people who should be represented on the Schools Commission. We do not seek to destroy the concept of the Schools Commission. We do not seek to destroy the flexibility of the Schools Commission. We do not seek to destroy the work of the Schools Commission. What we seek to do is to take away from the Minister - not the present Minister, but perhaps future Ministers - the sheer right, the personal right, of appointing lackeys to positions. I am not saying that the present Minister has appointed lackeys to positions. What I am saying is that we will remove any suggestion that in the future this could happen. I am surprised that honourable members such as the honourable member for Casey should argue with this concept.

Let us look at some of the other things that the Government is rejecting in terms of the amendments moved by the Opposition. The Government is objecting to amendment No. 11 to clause 13 and the concept of article 26 of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights and in particular the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. It is rejecting that. It is rejecting the concept of an obligation for governments to provide or assist in the provision and maintenance of educational opportunities for al! children which are of the highest standard and which recognise the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children and where provided and maintained by or on behalf of a government ensure that these opportunities are open without fees or religious tests to all children. This is the sort of amendment that the Government is rejecting.

Let us have no nonsense about limiting the flexibility of the Minister. Let us have no nonsense about the Opposition rejecting the needs test or the needs approach. What we are saying in the amendments is that not only should non-government schools and the organisations I have enumerated be granted the right to be represented on the Schools Commission but also that needs should be taken into account. Let us not misrepresent the position as outlined in the amendments by the Opposition. I completely disagree with the approach adopted by the honourable member for Casey and others on the Government side. I think it totally misrepresents the attitude - in my belief the responsible attitude - as outlined by the Opposition in putting forward reasonable amendments which are in no sense designed to disrupt the operation of the Schools Commission as provided for by the Government. What we are seeking to do is to protect the children of Australia and the organisations concerned with the education of children in Australia in the future.







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