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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2712

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate) -The Australian Country Party is concerned with the structure of the Schools Commission as proposed by the Government. We are concerned because in our opinion the Commission will not always be representative of all the interested bodies and groups associated with education. I recall to the attention of the Senate what I said this time last week when we were dealing with this matter. I make it quite clear again that my Party supports the Karmel Committee report and most of its recommendations. At no time has the Country Party sought to destroy the concept of the Schools Commission. But having debated the matter- I think it is before the Senate for the third time- in view of the importance of getting the new education program under way and for the education authorities, the States and the parents to understand and know where they are going in February of next year, my Party will not persist with its objection to this aspect of the Government's Bill.

I believe that every Australian has an interest in education and hopes that the Government will honour the undertakings given in its pre-election promises and in this legislation. Whilst not all the undertakings of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), especially in relation to independent schools, have been honoured the new provisions in the Bill at least respect the rights of the State Departments of Education and the independent school authorities. For those reasons we support the recommendation of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). In regard to clause 13 (3) (a) -

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Byrne - Senator Drake-Brockman,the Committee is dealing with amendments No. 1 and No. 2. Amendment No. 1 deals with clause 13 and seeks to add a new sub-clause ( 1 a) and amendment No. 2 seeks to add certain words in line 12 of clause 13.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Amendment No. 1 is the one relating to consultation.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Yes. I believe that this proposed amendment meets our request that the State Departments of Education and authorities connected with and responsible for non-government schools should be brought into consultation and co-operation. We believe that this is the only way in which the Schools Commission will make an acceptable and meaningful contribution to education. My Party believes that such an amendment to this clause is necessary to ensure that the Commission does not grow to a monolithic socialist bureaucracy. The Commission needs the flexibility of wide consultation and co-operation to give it a chance to succeed. We all hope that it will do that. For those reasons the Country Party supports the amendments.

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