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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4335

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - in reply - Speaking briefly in reply to the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) may I make it clear the sort of personnel that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has in mind for the Commission. I am glad of the tribute that has been paid to the Minister for Education for the work that he has done. The Minister has in mind that the personnel of this Commission will be all embracing in the sense that the personnel will be of the best type that one can obtain. On that score-

Mr Malcolm Fraser - May I ask you a question, Mr Minister?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - On that scoreyou have had your chance, and most of your speech was out of order - the point that 1 want to make is clear-

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I rise on a point of order. The Minister is reflecting upon your ruling, Mr Speaker, because he has said that most of my speech was out of order. I would have thought that a decision on that matter was your prerogative and not his.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! No point of order arises.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr Speakercalled you to order in the course of your speech. When we gave the reasons why these amend ments were rejected when they were before us earlier, it was made clear that the Australian Education Council was not consulted. A number of other people designated by the Opposition as being entitled to nominate those who should be appointed were not really interested in doing that sort of work. Yet we must examine why the Opposition is taking this action. The Opposition has a vindictive motive, to destroy the whole aspect of a needs concept. Because of that motive it will destroy the Commission and it hopes to destroy the States Grants (Schools) Bill because that involves a commission. The Opposition must bear the onus for what it is doing against education in this country.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek your indulgence and your assistance. What devices are there within this House to prevent Ministers telling falsehoods and continuing to repeat those falsehoods

Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is no point of order.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - On the point of order, Mr Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Wannon has sought to take a point of order which is not a point of order. There is no point of order involved.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker, may I take a point of order?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order involved in what the honourable member has just asked me. I call the Acting Minister for Education.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I want to make it clear that the Minister for Education, to whom tribute has been paid right across the nation, will always act in the best interests of education. To have it suggested here that the Minister for Education must work within the confines of an amendment which suggests that other people will nominate those who are to be on the Commission is contrary to the whole concept of a proper commission. Evidence for the Government's proposal is the evidence that I submitted, that of the Universities Commission, the College of Advanced Education Commission and the report of Professor Karmel himself. Why is it that members of the Opposition want to have this confine and restriction on the Minister? Is it the political motive? It is not so much that. The motive is opposition to the concept of needs.

If the Opposition can put on a commission people who are really not interested in the Government's policy of needs, can honourable members imagine how unworkable that commission would be?

I say again that the Australian Parents Council should not have any right to think that it represents anybody in the nongovernment sector. It represents the Liberal Party. In the amendments submitted by the Senate the Australian Parents Council is given a specific right to nominate people for the Commission. Why is it so? If honourable members examine the minutes of that Council they will find that it has been consulting with members of the Liberal Party. I ask honourable members to look at its Executive. In the main they are Liberal Party candidates. The Opposition uses this subterfuge of saying that that Council is interested in the concept of the needs policy. Its policy is against the needs concept. It has never endorsed it. It has passed resolutions deploring the fact that there will be a commission and that it was not consulted. Is not it obvious that they are the people behind this attitude of 'do not let the Government get its commission the way it wants to constitute it; do not let the Government implement its needs policy. Oppose this Bill that is so valuable to education.'

I emphasise the point that this Commission is an integral part of the Government's policy on education. If we have to work without a commission the whole concept of the needs policy will not fail but it will put it in an inferior position. The Opposition's attitude to this Bill is one of spite and venom because it will not agree to the Commission being established. If the Opposition does have a policy on this matter and it wins the next election on that policy, it can do something about such a statutory body.

Opposition members are not even prepared to allow the Commission to commence operations and it is not even prepared to allow the Commission to have the ability to say that it is a statutory organisation with all the protection that would be involved. Opposition members want it to be some wishy-washy group which has to run back and answer to others as to how it should act. When we look at the people nominated by the Opposition we find that they are very much against the Government's policy on education and are on record as having opposed the Government vigorously right throughout the last election campaign. They are the Opposition's candidates.

Mr MacKellar - Who?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Australian Parents Council.

Mr MacKellar - Who are they? Name them.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about Mr Alewood? We all know Mr Alewood. He is a Liberal candidate. I will name Mr Keating, a Liberal candidate, and Mr Hughes who also is a Liberal candidate. (Honourable members interjecting) -

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I will start mentioning a few names in a moment. There will be no interjections. Honourable members are aware that interjections are out of order. There will be no more interjections - otherwise I shall take action.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The members of the Australian Parents Council passed a resolution indicating that the people whom the Minister had in mind for appointment to the Commission did not represent them. Of course they did not represent the Council. But whom does the Council represent? It represents the Liberal philosophy which is against the whole philosophy of this Government. Their philosophy is one of bolstering up privilege and guaranteeing that there will be inequality because of the stupid policy of across the board grants irrespective of need. That is the whole problem we face. Where a real need existed, members of the present Opposition never grappled with it. These people say that it is marvellous to have schools where there will be admission fees of $700; that keeps many other children out. That is a good concept, they say.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - -Rubbish

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not our point of view and it is not rubbish, and the honourable member knows it. The Opposition caters for privilege and is masquerading behind the statement that it is interested in the education of all children, whereas it is not. It is for that reason that we have rejected the amendments. The Opposition has no right to suggest that these people would put up nominees. Many of them did not ask for that. However, one group did, and that is the group I named. The others I leave unnamed because they never asked for the Opposition's support in that field. I place on record that the Minister, who is an honourable man and who does a splendid job in education, wants to have a splendid commission, but the Opposition is denying him that. We will hold it against the

Opposition in every election we fight that it would not allow a commission to be set up, out of personal venom and spite.

Question put -

That the House insists on disagreeing to amendments insisted on by the Senate.

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