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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1283


Senator JESSOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Did the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science see a television news session last week during which a courageous young lady university student lashed out against the disruptive minority of university students who occupied offices at Latrobe University recently? Is he aware that she complained of the difficulties experienced by herself and the majority of her fellows in concentrating on academic studies due to the noisy demonstrations of the persistent militant minority element in that institution? What power has the Minister for Education and Science to require the university government to maintain a peaceful place suitable for study?


Senator WRIGHT - I did not see the programme to which the honourable senator refers but I can well understand that there would be great concern on the part of the purposeful student majority body that it should not be disrupted or disturbed in its pursuit of studies. With regard to the power of the Minister for Education and Science, the Commonwealth Constitution does not give this Parliament direct power in relation to State universities. State parliaments have adopted the traditional attitude of according those institutions academic autonomy. That does not accord them the right of Alsatia, immune from the civil law. The enforcement of civil law on the campus and within the university does not depend upon the invitation of any vice-chancellor. It runs in the university as throughout other sections, of the community. The fact is that this Government has increased its vote for State universities from $28m 10 years ago to $90m this year. The appropriation of State governments is in excess of that amount. Much of the State governments' appropriations come by way of reimbursement grants from this Parliament. Therefore it is obvious that with the responsibility of that appropriation there must be an insistence that university government is maintained so as to ensure scholarship being attained by those students are purposefully dedicated to acquiring scholarship and not in the interests of the minority who are disrupters.







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