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Wednesday, 10 April 1957

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) .- The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) spoke about the role of universities in the Australian economy. 1 think it is a very arid expression, but it is also a fair reflection of the position of universities in the Australian community. The honorable member for Petrie did not refer to the role of universities in Australian civilization. It would be very largely true to say that, prior to World War I., universities occupied a very much higher position in the Australian community than they do to-day. The honorable member for Petrie spoke about the need for good teachers at a university. There was a time when it was assumed that the primary job of a man on the staff of a university was to inspire students to teach themselves. It would be unfortunate if we ever regarded universities as teaching institutions in which lecturers pumped out certain doles of knowledge to be returned to them at examinations.

I am not completely " au fait " with the Queensland legislation, but it is interesting to note that the honorable member for Petrie, in claiming that there was political interference with the university because an appeals board was set up. asked for further political interference from the Commonwealth Parliament as a means of stopping it. He suggested that if a State government did not comply with our ideas of the way it should carry out what he said was a State function of education, then that State government should be punished by some action of the Federal Parliament. That is quite as dangerous as anything which he envisages as possibly arising out of the legislation of the State government.

Mr Hulme - It is not a novel idea in relation to grants to the States.

Mr BEAZLEY - No. but this is a grant to a State for an educational purpose. There is another point about the speech of the honorable member that was utterly arid, and that is his suggestion that education is a State responsibility. The Commonwealth Government over the past twenty years has entered all sorts of fields. It could be argued that employment is a State responsibility, but from 1940 onwards, when the Commonwealth took over the direction of labour, a great department has been established with all the channels of information that the States do not possess. If the Commonwealth took from the community the power to run such things, it has the responsibility of running them. Equally, the Commonwealth Government has, rightly or wrongly, destroyed the taxing powers of the States. Therefore, every State government, if it wishes to assist education, must ask the Commonwealth Government for money. lt would be a great relief in this Federal Parliament if some of the Queensland members opposite stopped debating State issues every time they got up.

Mr Haylen - Some of them cannot get into the State House.

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