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Wednesday, 5 December 1973

Senator McMANUS (Victoria) (Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party) - The mantle of a parliamentary purist sits rather oddly on the shoulders of Senator Turnbull. I am sorry that he spoke about nauseating hypocrisy on the part of my Party. There has never been any hyprocrisy about Senator Turnbull! I remember on one occasion in the Senate, when a member of the previous Government appealed to the consciences of honourable senators, Senator Turnbull said: 'That makes no difference to me; I have not got a conscience', and all honourable senators present said: 'Hear, hear! ' I am not upset by the statements of Senator Turnbull, who makes a hit and run visit to the Senate every now and again. He says something which he hopes will be sensational enough to reach the Press in order to give the impression that he is a regular attender of the Senate. But I do not accept Senator Turnbull as a judge of morality. He has told us today that he is a judge of morality, for he has implied that he can determine what is hypocrisy and what is not hypocrisy.

Senator Byrne - Mr Temporary Chairman,I take a point of order. The people of Australiathe teachers, the parents and friends associations and others- are awaiting the outcome of this debate. I believe it is quite outside the Standing. Orders for honourable senators to have this slam-banging fight. We have heard Senator McManus getting rid of his spleen. Let us stick to the motion and get a vote on this matter, because the young people in Australia who depend on education want us to get this Bill through. Let us stick to the motion and not deal with side issues and personalities.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wilkinson - I do not consider that there is any point of order. A statement has been made by Senator Turnbull and I am waiting now for

Senator McManus,having replied to that statement by Senator Turnbull, to direct bis attention to the motion.

Senator McMANUS - Thank you, Mr Temporary Chairman. I can only say that, if Senator O 'Byrne's feelings are so strong, why did he not interject or take a point of order when Senator Turnbull was speaking? There is one obvious reason: His sensibilities are touched only when they are appealed to in a certain direction. I will now leave that matter. I merely say to Senator Turnbull that I am sorry that he raised the matter of religion; I believe that when he thinks the matter over afterwards he will be sorry, too. One thing I can say about the debates on this issue is that I have not heard the matter of religion raised, and I think that it has been a jolly good thing that it has not been raised. I am sorry that Senator Turnbull has been the first to inject into this debate something that ought not to be there.

Regarding the matter of schools, about which there has been much discussion, I point out that the schools for which the DLP is fighting to obtain basic grants are practically all Protestant and Jewish schools. That gives the lie direct to any suggestion that we have been motivated by religion. Regarding this motion, I merely want to say that we will persist with the amendments that we have moved. An issue has been raised by 30 or 40 Press representatives of the Government that if we persist in opposing the kind of Commission that the Government wants we will stop the children of Australia from getting $S00m worth of aid. Such an issue has not been raised at all: The issue has concerned the sort of commission that should be set up. I have been told by 2 Ministers and quite a number of Australian Labor Party parliamentarians that, if the Opposition 's proposal that each group should nominate its own representative is persisted with, all the Government has to do is use its power, without legislation, to nominate another Karmeltype committee, and all the money can be given without any trouble.

Strangely, the Government says that if it appoints all the members of the Commission it will be an independent Commission but that if the members are appointed by their own organisations the Commission will not be independent. I do not understand how any commission, all of whose members are appointed by the Government and all of whom depend on the Government for retaining their job, can be an independent commission. I have just spoken to a representative of the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I told him that I thought the advertisement he published yesterday was very hard on his own people. When he asked me why I thought that, I said: 'You make a statement to the effect that, if you nominate your own people, they will be pettifogging, quarrelsome people, but that if the Government nominates them they will be all right'. He said: 'If they are appointed by the organisation, they will be pettifogging, quarrelsome people who cannot do a decent job'. I said: 'You know your own members best, but surely the Teachers Federation could be relied on to appoint a representative who is not quarrelsome and pettifogging, and this applies in le same way to the state school parents'. I told him that I was surprised that the New South Wales Teachers Federation thought that these people were not fit to appoint their own representatives.

All we say to the Government is that we believe that the organisations are quite capable of appointing their own representatives. In regard to the commission on education for the Australian Capital Territory, the Minister and the Government have provided that the organisations can nominate their own representatives. All we say is: 'All right, if you do not agree with us you have the power without any legislation to appoint a Karmel-type commission and it can go and do the whole job'. What is wrong with that? The Government is saying: 'We know we can appoint the commission we want, but we are going to force you to agree to a commission that you do not want'. I do not see any commonsense or justice in a proposal that we shall be forced to vote for a commission with which we disagree when at the very time the Government has the power in its hands to do the whole thing itself. As the Melbourne 'Age' said, this row over the Commission is a colossal bluff.

Senator McLaren -On behalf of the DLP.

Senator McMANUS -If Senator McLarenlived in Victoria he would never accuse the 'Age ' of being a supporter of the DLP. Senator Poyser knows this as do other honourable senators from Victoria. I have never seen such trenchant attacking leading articles about a political party anywhere in Australia as in the 'Age' on the DLP. Senator McLaren knows nothing about Victorian affairs.

Senator McLaren - You are bluffing.

Senator McMANUS -Look, I think you should stick to feathers and not politics.

Senator McLaren - I made a success of that, too.

Senator McMANUS - I hope that you made a better success of feathers than you have made of politics. The Government has it in its own hands to appoint the Commission. But what has happened? We all know that the brains trust- the Mick Young-Eric Walsh axis and the other boys-has got together and said: 'This is our chance to get some electoral profit'. The 35 pressmen have been put on the job and the story is being put around: 'Look at the Opposition holding up this Commission'. In short, they are saying that the Opposition is going to stop the kids from getting $500m. But the kids were never in any danger of losing a cent out of it. All that has happened is that this Government has decided to play political football with the welfare of the children in the schools of this country.

I conclude my speech by saying that if Senator Turnbull believes in attacking hypocrisy, let him attack the hypocrisy of what the Government has been doing in the last couple of weeks on this issue. The Government has it in its own hands without legislation tomorrow to appoint the Commission that it wants and it will not appoint it because there is a little bit of political propaganda and political trickery about and it thinks that it might make something out of it.

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