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Thursday, 3 October 1974
Page: 1655

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - in reply- The Government appreciates the speedy passage which has been given by the Opposition to these 2 noteworthy pieces of legislation which were introduced by the Government as part of its general overall education program. The first Bill is the States Grants (Universities) Bill 1974 and the second is the Universities Commission Bill 1974. I shall be very brief in reply to the points which have been made by Senator Rae and Senator Baume. I reiterate that I appreciate the expedition which has been given to the passage of the legislation. Senator Rae referred to the change in the definition of university which is set out in the Universities Commission Bill. I understand that this matter was the subject of discussion in the debate which took place in the House of Representatives. In reply to the debate my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) set out at reasonable length reasons why the change was taking place.

Senator Rae - Perhaps the Minister might like to refer to the answer which was given in the debate in the same way in which I referred to the matter which was raised there.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) -Yes. I am told that it is proposed that the definition of university should be amended in order to restrict the meaning of the word to institutions which are established by Commonwealth and State statutes. That is the point to which Senator Rae alluded. The Universities Commission is concerned that some self-styled universities which in fact are private coaching or teaching organisations may approach the Commission for financial assistance. The amendment will make it clear that the Commission will not make recommendations in respect of such institutions. Apparently, the reason for the change is that in the past the Department had some problems with a private university which was issuing private degrees, as it were, by post or as a result of correspondence. That private university has now folded up. None of the established universities will recognise that institution or the alleged degrees which it conferred, nor will the Australian Public Service recognise the degrees as being a tertiary qualification. It is for that reason that this amendment is being made to that definition. I greatly appreciate the points which Senator Baume has made in relation to Newcastle and Wollongong. Like him, being a senator from New South Wales, I very much appreciate the points which he has made in relation to those very large industrial cities. They are quite complex in nature. They have a great variance of problems not only geographically but also ethnically.

From a personal point of view I echo his expression of sentiment so far as the establishment of a medical school in Newcastle is concerned and also with respect to the proposal to establish another school in Wollongong. I can tell the honourable senator that there is provision of funds for a medical school at Newcastle. If the honourable senator looks at the Schedule to the States Grants (Universities) Bill he will see an amount of about $160,000 is provided for the planning of a medical school for the University of Newcastle. I understand that it is envisaged that the medical school, when established, will be able to take its first students in 1977. So far as Wollongong is concerned, Senator Baume alluded to the very Homeric work being put in by Dr John Stevens who is a leading general practitioner. I am aware of that work. I also tell the honourable senator that the Sax Committee, namely the National Hospitals and Health Services Commission, is now doing a study on the question of putting a medical school into Wollongong. I am sure that that will give the honourable senator great heart. I appreciate the expedition with which the Opposition has allowed the Government to handle the passage of this legislation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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