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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 889


Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - I move a further amendment which incorporates part of the amendment which was proposed by Senator Wheel don and defeated. To the motion 'That the Bill be now read a second time' I move:

Add the words 'but the Senate is of opinion that the best interests of Australian education require:

1.   That the Commonwealth review secondary and technical scholarships to ensure that every student who has successfully completed all but the last 2 years of his full course will receive financial assistance to enable and encourage him to proceed with his education. The value of such scholarship to be the same, regardless of the school attended by the student; and

2.   That the Commonwealth review and adjust annually all living allowances to students to accord with rises in the cost of living.'

I put the motion in that way as it has been indicated that although there are 3 parts of our policy which were advanced by Senator Wheeldon, a majority of the Senate would not be prepared to accept those 3 parts but would be prepared to express an opinion in relation to the second and third parts. It is in order to allow that expression to be made that I am moving in this way. I have no doubt it will be understood that we are not thereby abandoning the Opposition's view in relation to the schools commission and the other matters. But in order to allow this opinion to be expressed I have formally moved this amendment. As I have said, the second and third paragraphs are the same as those contained in Senator Wheeldon's amendment which was earlier defeated.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - I rise to order. I would have to resist this motion. In fact, I would suggest to you, Mr President, that the amendment in truth is out of order to the extent that both parts refer to matters that are not part of the Bill. I ask you, Sir, to give your judgment on that because the Bill has nothing to do with scholarships. The States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill deals with special per capita payments. It is true that the amendment is only an expression of opinion, but if passed it would increase the charge oh the revenue of the Commonwealth. At the present time the Commonwealth is providing annually approximately $8m for scholarships. Labor's proposal would increase to about $50m. Scholarships have nothing to do with the Bill. To place an opinion - I acknowledge that it is only an opinion - which has nothing to do with scholarships at the end of the motion for the second reading is completely meaningless. I would suggest to the honourable senator that he could move his motion in the form of a notice of motion next time the Senate meets if he wants to do something about scholarships. He can bring in a private members Bill. We would deal with it very expeditiously in the way we normally deal with them.


Senator Murphy - It was part of the previous amendment.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - The honourable senator was endeavouring to defeat the Bill with his earlier amendment. I suggest that the amendment is out of order. I ask you, Mr President, to rule on it. The Government could not support an opinion being expressed in the terms that are advanced.


Senator Byrne - I suppose that by a process of reasoning that would not be altogether too tortuous this amendment could be made quite relevant to the concept of this type of Bill. The purport of a Bill such as this is to facilitate by the grant of money to schools the availability of education to the widest possible section of the Australian people. If this is so, an alternative way of doing this is by the provision of scholarships. That is the intent of this Bill and it is the intent of the amendment. Therefore, there is a common intent. Admittedly, it does not go precisely to the form of assistance and encouragement given by this Bill. But it does definitely deal with the total encouragement to all education and its availability to children.


Senator Wright - That is so in the technical and secondary scholarships referred to, but there is no exclusive reference to independent schools.


Senator Byrne - That does not matter. That is not the point. The point is the availability of education generally and independent schools being part of the totality of the education system and the availability of education as a national and universal concept. I think it would be a refinement of opposition to rule this amendment out of order. If one applied the most strict technical test it may be out of order. But applying the intent of the amendment to the concept of the principal Act and the concept of the Bill, I feel it can quite simply be brought within the ambit and found to be in order in terms of the Bill.


Senator Rae - If one accepts Senator Byrne's argument, as well as the arguments already raised by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson one finds that standing order 133 becomes a matter for consideration. If what is to be done is to regard the motion moved by Senator Murphy as being one which is directly relevant to the Bill which we have before us in the way explained by Senator Byrne, it becomes a matter similar in substance to that amendment which has already been voted upon. Standing order 133 states:

No Question or Amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any Question or Amendment which, during the same Session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the Order, Resolution, or Vote on such Question Or Amendment has been rescinded.

I suggest, Mr President, that the speakers who have supported the motion are on the horns of a dilemma. Either Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson's point is correct or my point is correct. Whichever is correct, in my submission the Opposition cannot proceed.


The PRESIDENT - I have listened to what both Senator Byrne and Senator Rae have had to say. The matter raised an arcane point in Senate procedure which is a hangover from earlier days. Perhaps the Senate is embarking upon unexplored areas at the present moment. I would be grateful to hear other honourable senators express an opinion on this matter.


Senator Murphy - May I speak to the point of order?


The PRESIDENT - Yes.


Senator Murphy - The point which Senator Rae has raised is that no question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which during the same session has been resolved in the affirmative or negative unless the other has been rescinded. It seems to me that there is quite a simple answer to that argument. This amendment is not the same in substance as the one which Senator Wheeldon put forward. Quite clearly, it is not the same in substance because the proposition which Senator Wheeldon put forward differed in 2 ways. Firstly, it sought to withdraw the bill and redraft it, and this amendment does not. Secondly, it included the matter dealing with the schools commission. It is so different in substance that while the second opposition Party in this place was prepared to vote against Senator Wheeldon's amendment, it is prepared to vote for this one. That shows clearly how different it is in substance.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - The Party has not said it will vote for it.


Senator Murphy - Let us say this: A senator could reasonably take the view that this is altogether different. He could say that in his opinion if he voted for what Senator Wheeldon was putting forward the Bill would be taken away and redrafted. If he voted for this amendment, that would not happen. He would be allowing the Bill to go through. He could say: 'If I voted for Senator Wheeldon's amendment I would be expressing agreement with the proposition about the schools commission.

If I vote for this amendment I am not'. That shows that there is an enormous difference in substance. It is quite clear that on the matters of substance there is a considerable difference of opinion between what was expressed by Senator McManus and what was expressed by Senator Wheeldon. But it happens that in certain respects there is an overlapping and a concurrence of ideas on a fraction of the matter. It cannot be said that therefore this is the same in substance. Obviously it is different. With respect to you, Mr President, I suggest that the point raised under standing order 133 is not well-founded.

As to the other point raised, I submit that the motion moved as an amendment of the original motion aims at the expression of an opinion of the Senate. It is proper that the Senate should be able to express an opinion going beyond the subject of the Bill. Why should not the Senate say that this Bil] is fair enough as a first step but all sorts of other things ought to be done. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) suggested that in some way expenditure of finance is involved in this motion. That is not the case. The motion would not be operative in causing expenditure. The motton merely calls for an expression of opinion by the Senate as to what should be done.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - What about if it were implemented?


Senator Murphy - This is not a motion calling for the expenditure of money. The motion calls merely for an expression of opinion. I submit that the motion does not come within the constitutional prohibition. It merely is an expression of opinion and it is consonant with the proper functions of the Senate that the motion should be put. If there is any doubt - I submit there is not - I suggest it would be wiser for a legislative body not to confine itself in any way when a mere expression of opinion is sought. It would be more in accordance with the spirit, tradition and the way in which the Senate operates to permit the motion to be held to be in order. I submit there is no doubt that the motion is in order.


Senator Willesee - Mr President, 2 points have been raised and I want to raise a further point. The first is that it is suggested that the Opposition has raised a question of opinion. I suggest that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) was drawing a long bow when he said that passage of the motion would mean increasing the charge. In the last year or two, Mr President, the Senate has established the practice of expressing opinions on all sorts of things. If those opinions were taken literally they would result in increased charges for all sorts of people. I do not want to argue that point any further because I think the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) covered it. Under standing order 133, Senator Rae argued as to whether this motion dealt with the substance of the original motion. Firstly, T do not think it does. Secondly, if it did and you held accordingly, Mr President, we would finally be led into concentric circles whereby the will of the Senate would be hamstrung.

I turn now to a point which has not been raised. 1 respectfully ask you, Mr President, to direct your attention to the title of the Bill which states that the measure relates to the grant of financial assistance to the States in relation to independent schools. The precedents in this place show that the title of a Bill can be either very restrictive or the opposite. I suggest to you that the title of this Bill is quite the opposite. The Bill relates to the granting of financial assistance. I do not need to read to you the first and second clauses in this motion, which were the second and third clauses of the original motion moved by Senator Wheeldon, but we are saying that in our opinion the words contained in them relate to the granting of financial assistance to schools. If you direct yourself to the very broad title, of the Bill I suggest that the point of order must be rejected.


Senator Wright - Mr President, I would like to say firstly that the principle should be that Parliament should address itself to the items on its agenda with such a degree of relevance that every member of the chamber can encompass the matters that are relevant and not be confronted with irrelevant debate. Senator Willesee quite appropriately drew attention to the title of the Bill. It is a Bill to grant money to the States for certain purposes. I suggest that in the mind of anybody who knows the scope of legislation in this country the subject matter of this Bill is entirely different from a review of technical and secondary scholarships provided by the Commonwealth. Those scholarships involve direct expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth and do not affect the States in any way; they have nothing to do with revenue grants to the States. Secondary scholarships and technical scholarships are provided to students irrespective of whether they go to state schools or independent schools. Thus is denned a subject matter entirely different from the grants to the States for independent schools which are dealt with in this Bill.

I submit that those 2 considerations are irrefutable. For anybody to suggest that there is any relevance between grants to States for independent schools and an expression of an opinion about the amount that the Commonwealth should provide directly for scholarships betokens to me a complete misunderstanding of the whole educational structure that this Parliament has accepted. I suggest that it is the long title of the Bill together with the subject matter of the Bill which defines the subject matter to which any amendment must be relevant. How stupid we could become if honourable senators were permitted to move all sorts of fantastic motions calling for expressions of opinion just because a Bill was before the Senate. I suggest that as in most responsible meetings honourable senators come here to discuss the business on the agenda. Honourable senators cannot be expected adequately to discuss Commonwealth scholarships when we are dealing with grants to the States for independent schools.

The point raised by Senator Rae is based upon a piece of formal logic - that is whether or not the whole includes the part. On this occasion Senator Wheeldon and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) fell into the not often encountered trap of putting the whole of their motion and now they wish to put part of it. If they had wished to put the motion in parts and so avoid the negative vote that has been registered already in connection with clauses 2 and 3 of the original motion, they could have done so as a matter of procedure.


Senator Murphy - Have you not overlooked the fact that the opening parts of the original motion were different? That was the reason.


Senator Wright - No, I have not overlooked it. I listened in silence to Senator Murphy. I am familiar with the old technique of trying to interrupt the theme of an argument by interjection on the assumption that any understanding of a particular matter is the exclusive prerogative of the interjector. I am putting a point based on formal logic. A 3-pronged motion has already been put to the Senate and been negatived. It was competent for the Opposition to save the 2nd and 3rd points mentioned in the original motion and to have an individual vote on them. That method was not adopted.

The Leader of the Opposition said that the operative words of the original motion were that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted in order to provide for 2 matters. Now the Opposition seeks to gain an expression of opinion. The question is whether the matters contained in this motion are the same in substance as in the original motion. That is the language that has been used. It is precisely so that we will not have to deal with these distinctions between operative amendments and advisory amendments that the words 'in substance' are used in the Standing Order. I would suggest that the factor upon which the Senate's decision should depend is the relevance of direct expenditure by the Commonwealth on its own scholarships to a Bill the subject matter of which is grants to independent schools in the States.


The PRESIDENT - I wish to deal first of all with Senator Rae's point of order, which was based on standing order 133. I have had a good look at that standing order and I have consulted the learned Clerks at the Table about it. I consider that standing order 133 is not relevant to this matter for several reasons. For example, I have noted that the Senate has not voted on the subject matter of the amendment; it has voted only on whether to leave out certain words. So I do not uphold the point of order which was raised by Senator Rae on the basis of standing order 133. I have listened to the arguments of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, Senator

Wright, Senator Murphy and Senator Willesee. I rest my presidential opinion on the basis that over the last 2 years or so the Senate has adopted the practice of expressing an opinion and I regard the Senate as being entitled to express an opinion irrespective of whether the ambit of the relevant Bill comes within the financial powers of the Senate. I must uphold the right of the Senate to consider amendments of this nature. Senator Murphy could, of course, seek leave to move his amendment and allow the Senate to settle the matter but, in the circumstances, I consider that that would be wasting time. As I have said, I am willing to accept the amendment which is now before the Senate.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - Then I suggest that the amendment ought to be put to a vote and disposed of in that way.


The PRESIDENT - I propose to do that, but first I wish to provide an opportunity for honourable senators to express their opinions.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - I am not in any way being disrespectful Sir. I abide by the ruling you have given.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be added (Senator Murphy's amendment) be added.







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