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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 1927

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should like to take the earliest possible opportunity to clear up any confusion that I have created in the mind of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. First of all, I thought I had made it clear that I do not impute any impropriety to belonging to a pressure group. I said that several times. It is in the nature of a pluralist society that we should have pressure groups. Pressure groups are entitled to be heard. At no stage did I say that being a member of a pressure group would disqualify a man or woman from membership of the Schools Commission. At no stage did I say that I disapproved of panels being submitted to the Minister in order to guide him in the selection of members of the Commission. In fact I specifically stated that I thought that is the way the Commission should function and that is the way it would function. I think that the distinction is really to be found in the distinction between the words 'may' and shall'. It is highly instructive that Senator Carrick in the debate fell into some confusion himself over these words.

I believe that panels of experts should be submitted by the various groups- I shall leave out the word 'pressure' if it is offensive- to the Minister. I believe the Minister should consider them and of course that is what he has done in setting up the Committee which at present exists.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - The interim committee.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -The interim committee, that is right. I see nothing wrong with this. I see it as the only way in which the commission can function. On the other hand I see nothing dictatorial in the Government's looking at all the talent available in the education field and while paying regard to the desirability of availing itself of expert advice from the panel submitted to it and from the education field at large, reserving the right to choose what it considers the most balanced and competent commission.

Our object really comes down to this: We are not quarrelling with the idea that everybody's voice should be heard. As I pointed out earlier, the specific purpose of clause 16 of the Bill is to enable the setting up of boards in the various States and Territories in order to put all these views before the Commission which may, if it is elected on the basis that we suggest, not have people representing various groups. Somebody may miss out, but I suggest we will have a much more competent, a much more skilful and a much more expert commission if the Government is entitled in manning this Commission to look across the whole field and not to have its hands tied but of course to be responsible. I suggest that our method of selecting the Commission, allied with what we propose in clause 16 will secure the representation of the ecumenical approach which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson rightly espouses, but that we will have a better functioning Commission and a Commission more likely to achieve those ends.

The CHAIRMAN - I call Senator Davidson. He has been trying to catch my eye for a long time.

Senator Rae - I think Senator Davidson is not trying to catch your eye at the moment, Sir; I am trying to.

The CHAIRMAN - I have already extended to you precedence over Senator Davidson. If Senator Davidson cares to intimate to the Chair that he does not want to speak at this time -

Senator Davidson - Not at this stage, Mr Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN - I call Senator Rae.

Senator McManus - I formally notify you, Mr Chairman, that I have an amendment to move. If we are to go over the full area of the debate I hope that I shall soon get an opportunity to move my amendment.

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