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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 877

Senator GEORGES(12.11) —I think Senator Teague and others in this chamber have missed the point of the whole exercise. The Council of the Australian National University originally opposed any legislative intrusion into the day to day affairs of the Council, the university, or of any institution which is set up, as Senator Harradine said, to seek out the truth and to carry out all those functions which are necessary to advance knowledge without any imposed limitation from outside. Even though the budgetary requirements of these institutions are met by society as a whole, the independence of those institutions is vital to their functioning. We are attempting here to take out that last element of legislative intrusion into the affairs of the University. The whole exercise undertaken since 1978 has meant that the institutions-the Australian National University in particular-have adjusted their procedures, and would have adjusted their procedures without legislative action by this Parliament, to correct--

Senator Teague —I doubt that, I really do, because they didn't do it in 1979.

Senator GEORGES —The University began to adjust its procedures, but it did not do it because of legislative imposition. It would have been done anyhow. Senator Rae has indicated, as a member of the Council and as a member of the appeals committee, that it instituted procedures which would limit that sort of abuse. I believe that that is the way it should continue to be. For that reason we should not allow a statute provision which would be a precedent for the reimposition of legislative action by parliaments upon the educational institutions of this country. All I am suggesting is that we should accept the withdrawal of this intrusion by legislation into the affairs of the two major institutions in the Australian Capital Territory.

Question put:

That the clause be agreed to.