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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 1939

Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) - The debate on clause 5 has revolved around one essential point of principle and argument. That is, the presentation of an amendment by the Opposition to have certain categories of interests represented. The argument put forward by the Government and propounded specifically by Senator James McClelland is that any such board representing a series of interests and having some representation back to its interests could not work because it would be in eternal conflict. Therefore, he says that it would be bad to have such a board. I hope I do not misrepresent his argument in any way. I think that that is an argument that has run through the Government's whole train of thought this afternoon. If this is so, then the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) if he wishes to reply, must draw attention to the fact that at the Federal Government level and the State Government level there are some hundreds of boards and commissions. If we take them one by one we find that the principle, rather than the exception, is that they represent specific interests and in many cases representatives of groups are elected to them. For example, in the whole of the sphere of primary industry we will find board after board on which there are representatives of special, conflicting groups who are frequently elected to such boards. For example, the wheat growers are elected to an Australian Wheat Board or in the case of a state milk board there are the producers' representatives and the consumers' representatives.

Senator McManus - There is a dried fruits board.

Senator CARRICK - Yes. I can name literally dozens of boards and commissions on which the normal, rather than the exception, is the principle of interest group representation. I have not heard Government senators say that they propose to restructure all these boards because this is a bad principle. I have not heard them say that none of these boards is workable because these interests conflict. After all, the Parliament works with the conflicting interests of interest groups and obtains a consensus out of that. This is the very essence of democracy that these groups work in this way. In fact, the Government's proposition is in direct conflict with the normal principle involved throughout the community. I think that if we examined the state education we would find a variety of educational bodies set up with interest groups represented on them. I think that if we look at political parties- I hope that I do not misrepresent the Labor Party- we would find the Australian Labor Party state conference structured by representatives of particular groups being nominated or voted to the conference. Does this, in fact, cause such conflict as to make the conference inoperable? If so, why are they structured in this way? In fact, the very diversity- the very conflict of interests- is the reason they are so structured. Out of this exchange of views comes good. Al l experience of boards and commissions operating on the Federal and State levels proves that this principle works. Therefore, the Opposition's amendment is eminently sensible and the Government's argument in opposition to it falls to the ground.

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