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Wednesday, 17 October 1956

Mr JOSKE (Balaclava) .- I onlyrise because of some of the remarks that have been made by members of the Opposition in this debate. This is a bill which will result in Mount Stromlo observatory being transferred from the control of a government department to the control of the Australian National University. When one sums the ma'tter up in these terms, one instantly sees why the Opposition has been attempting to stone-wall this bill. This stone-walling represents an attempt by members of the Opposition, once again, to preserve their socialist policy of having as much control as possible in the hands of government departments. I should think that one would get far better results in the way of research from control exercised by a university than from control exercised by a government department. That, in itself, seems to be ample ground for this bill being passed by this House.

I do not understand the suggestion that there is something illegal about this bill - that this Parliament cannot deal with trust funds. This bill provides for the repeal of an act relating to trust funds - an act of this Parliament - and this Parliament has ample jurisdiction, power and authority to repeal its own legislation, lt is recognized by all parliaments that, where trust funds have been accumulated from various sources and the occasion arises for some alteration in the trust, the parliament of the country concerned is the authority to make the necessary alteration. Now, this is a law relating to territories. It is fully within the power of the Commonwealth Parliament to make a law of this nature.

As is pointed out in the second-reading speech of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), the research work of this observatory has increased considerably over the years. The Australian National University is essentially a research university, and the work of the university will be greatly added to by this additional research work being placed within its authority. The recommendation that this should be done has come from very powerful sources - from sources to which great attention would normally be paid. It is only now suggested that attention should not be paid to them because some effort is being made to keep this as a socialist project instead of handing it over to the university. But what has been forgotten in the course of this debate is the fact that this matter has been examined not only by Dr. Woolley and the Board of Visitors, but also by the university authorities themselves. Before the university authorities were prepared to accept this change of control and to assume the power to control the observatory," this matter was carefully considered by them in order to determine whether it was suitable for the university to have the observatory within its control and whether satisfactory work could be done under those circumstances. The conclusion that was arrived at was that quite excellent research work could be done and that far greater research could be accomplished by the observatory under this control than had been accomplished previously. It was because of that fact that the university finally decided that it would accept the control. It is in those circumstances - after the university has been asked to consider this arrangement, has considered it thoroughly and has accepted it - that the Government brings the bill before the House, and asks that it be passed.

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