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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 1979

Senator RAE (Tasmania) - At the moment clause 4 reads:

(   1 ) There shall be a Commission by the name of the Schools Commission.

(2)   The Commission shall consist of: (a) a Chairman; and ( b) such number of other members, not being less than four nor more than eleven, as is from time to time prescribed.

Consequential upon the amendment which was carried yesterday and which increases the total number of members of the Commission to 1 5- a Chairman and 14 other members- I now move:

Leave out paragraph (b) of sub-clause (2), insert the following paragraph:

(b)   fourteen other members selected or appointed as hereinafter provided. '.

Again this amendment is a direct consequence of the carriage yesterday of the amendment moved by Senator McManus. I make this brief additional comment to the comments which were made yesterday in relation to the overall question. I take this opportunity, while the proceedings of the Committee are being broadcast, to refute again the completely untrue reporting of the Opposition's attitude to the Schools Commission Bill. I take this opportunity to state- and I hope that this time it will be taken up on a fair basis- that the Opposition does not wish, to use the words used by one newspaper in its headline today, to 'kill the Schools Commission'. The Opposition is anxious to ensure that the Schools Commission is realistically constructed and that it operates with the powers and functions which were suggested for it by the then Opposition, now the Government, prior to the election and for which the Government claims that it has a mandate to legislate, if it has a mandate at all, and which were promised so very clearly by the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) when speaking on the general subject on 20 June 1 972 in an address to the Catholic Luncheon Club of Melbourne. Referring to the Commission, he said:

The Commission will include representatives of the State departments, non-government school authorities, parent organisations and the teaching profession.

That is a quotation from page 9 of the transcript of the Prime Minister's speech at the time. I add that quotation to the quotations which were given yesterday, and re-assert that what we have done is held the Government to the promise which it made to the people about the structure of the Schools Commission. The Government has attempted -

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr Temporary Chairman,I raise a point of order. Senator Rae is speaking to an amendment which deals only with the number of members of the Schools Commission. I challenge him to produce anything in the Prime Minister's policy speech which committed the Government to any numbers on the Schools Commission. The fact that today's proceedings are being broadcast, I submit, should not give Senator Rae a chance to regurgitate everything which he said yesterday and to drag irrelevancies into the debate. We are speaking only of the numbers on the Commission. There is nothing in the policy speech which has anything to do with the numbers on the Commission.

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