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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 870

Senator MACKLIN(11.21) —I buy into this Senate version of bikie warfare with some trepidation. I will actually refer to the Bill that we are discussing in Committee and to the clause that we are concerned about, clause 16 (c) (iii), which seeks to amend the principal Act. The principal Act states:

The Council may from time to time make, alter and repeal statutes with respect to all or any of the following matters:--

In other words we are talking about the powers of the Council. We are talking about the payment to the University of fees payable in respect of the provision to students of amenities or services not of an academic nature and fees payable in respect of an organisation of students or of students and other persons. I am not sure what Senator Teague was talking about but I do not think he was talking about the Australian National University. If we look at the income for last year that came from student fees, that is, $755,647, an amount of $399,810 went to the ANU Union, that is, to that organisation that provides catering and the types of services that we have talked about previously. That is the amount of money that goes to provide services to students from those student fees. I do not know whether Senator Teague is supporting bludgers, but certainly the Australian Democrats are not. We believe that it is fair that students pay for those services. To continue, $217,881 goes to the Sports Union.

Senator Ryan —Compulsorily under the Fraser legislation.

Senator MACKLIN —Yes, that was compulsory under the previous legislation. I suppose Senator Teague is not worried about that. He did not raise that issue when the Fraser Government was in power. Then there is an amount of $12,354 to the ANU Research Association; $1,175 to the Law Society; $10,000 to the Performing Arts Centre. For the servicing of loans, $250,000 was provided to the ANU Union to provide facilities and $308,000 went to the Sports Union. If we come to the area that presumably Senator Teague is talking about, the total amount to support the Students Association is $98,000. What does that provide? It includes services to the newspaper. I do not know whether Senator Teague ever got involved in the newspaper when he was at university but I do not know how it can produce a newspaper for $98,000, considering the number of issues it publishes and the way it generally conducts it. If any money were left over from that, they would have to pay staff. I remind honourable senators that these staff provide facilities for students. Often they provide the first point of contact for loans or students' problems. The Students Association provides counselling services out of that money. I do not know what the councillors are paid but they cannot be paid very much.

After all those expenses for all those associations are taken out the clubs and societies are left. In any university there is a wide range of clubs and societies and they are all competing for funds. I presume that the allocation of some of the remaining money is what Senator Teague is talking about. Let us be clear on this: I would prefer that all students pay their way to support these organisations and that the Senate not support those who bludge off other students who are getting services. If services are to be provided by students for students, let all of them put in a little money to pay for them. Some of that money could be going to groups that Senator Teague does not like. Other amounts of that money could be going to groups that I do not like-the Liberal association, for example. As I said in my speech in the second reading debate, these types of on-campus associations are part of university life. An important part of university life is the fermentation of ideas. If Senator Teague wants to cut that off, that is his view; it is not ours.

Let us look at the furphy Senator Peter Rae raised. Senator Ryan probably said what Senator Rae said she said, and in that case it would have been wrong.

Senator Peter Baume —She was wrong; let her admit it.

Senator MACKLIN —Perhaps she was wrong. I refer to the aspersions that Senator Rae and then Senator Teague cast on the ANU Council. Who is actually running the Council of the ANU if in fact the type of proposition put by Senator Teague or Senator Rae can stand up? That suggests that that Council does not know the difference between a proposition put up by the Government and a proposition passed by the Parliament. It suggests that the Council does not understand that the Government does not have a majority in the Senate and that occasionally Bills do not get through here. Therefore, what the Government says it wants and what the Government actually gets are often two quite different things. In fact, we will probably spend a lot of time during the elections discussing some of those things. Senator Rae and Senator Teague are saying not only that the Council does not know how this Parliament and the Government are run but also that if it does not happen to agree with something that the Government asks it about it will necessarily cower and say: 'We must concur'.

Senator Rae has now returned to the chamber. I am quite sure he, as a member of the Council, has never been backward in coming forward and expressing his views and in trying to convince the Council of the value of various propositions. I have not attended any of those Council meetings, but if his performance there is like his performance here I am sure that he would not be a wilting flower in any type of argument. The Council could put forward a contrary view and say to the Government: 'Take a running jump; we do not concur. We will not put down in a letter that we do concur, and we think the Bill should stay as it is'. The Council is quite capable of doing that. I have sat on councils where such a statement has been made to governments. It has been said to the Queensland Government. It is pretty dangerous to say things such as that to the Queensland Government.

I do not believe that these councils are the types of wilting flowers that Senator Rae and Senator Teague referred to. The councils can knock things back. They do not have to concur. The point we must take is that they agree with the Government's proposed amendments to the Act. They want the Act amended in this way. That is what we have to accept. Whether or not they instigated the change--

Senator Peter Baume —The Minister said they did.

Senator MACKLIN —I accept that point. If the Minister said that, she was wrong. I will not support her on that issue. The only point that I want to make, and I want to make it strongly, is that the councils of both the ANU and the Canberra College of Advanced Education agree with the amendments that the Government has brought forward. That is an important point in relation to the amendment moved by Senator Peter Baume. That is the reason why we support voluntary association. There is voluntary association. The councils of both of those organisations have agreed that there will be voluntary association.

Senator Peter Baume —But compulsory payment to the AUS.

Senator MACKLIN —I do not mind if students have to pay fees for services for those various other things.

Senator Peter Baume —To the AUS as well?

Senator MACKLIN —If the honourable senator actually wants me to set up a separate accounting system to raise separate fees, he will find that the total amount that will have to be paid will be more than has to be paid now.

Senator Peter Baume —Compulsory fees to the AUS; that is all I am asking about.

Senator MACKLIN —I say again to Senator Baume that the university will be given the power to repeal or make statutes in relation to these items. I accept the assurances that it will provide for conscientious objection. I believe that that satisfies the view of the Democrats, who support the notion of voluntary association and also that of fee for service. If services are to be provided to people, all people should put in to help pay for them.