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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3299

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - The viewpoint expressed by Senator Hall is a viewpoint which seeks to make our federation work. He believes and I believe, as the Opposition believes, that there is far too much centralised direction and control from Canberra, particularly in areas where the States have the expertise, the willingness and the plain competence to do the work effectively. Senator Hall has therefore moved an amendment. The Opposition, through Senator Guilfoyle, earlier indicated that it would not proceed with its amendments and that certainly no support would be given to Senator Hall for his amendment. The reason I rise is to state quite clearly that we do not intend to proceed with our amendments not because there is not a great deal which is wrong with the provisions of this Bill- the concept is admirable and warrants support but there are provisions in it we would like to amend- but because to do so would involve delaying the payment of the moneys until February or March of next year. The Government has resorted to blackmail with a view to ensuring that this Bill goes through intact. Let us make it quite clear that, if Senator Hall's amendment were carried or if the amendments which the Opposition had proposed to put forward were carried, the Bill, as amended, would have to go back to the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has risen and in the ordinary course it will not come back until February or March next year. That situation has been used by the Labor Party and its supporters to intimidate the Opposition. Senator McLaren, very interestingly, indicated the attitude of some groups who believe this money should be forthcoming. Their attack has been upon the Opposition and upon Senator Hall. It is quite clear that no attempt is made by the group to which he has referred to criticise the

Government for sending the House of Representatives away and putting the onus on the Senate. I rose to make that clear and to read into the record what the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) said in a Press release which he issued last Friday indicating quite clearly the way he and the Government view the situation. It said:

The Australian Minister for Education, Mr Kim Beazley, said today Australian Government payments to the States Tor technical and further education would be jeopardised by amendments foreshadowed in the Senate.

About $l08m is to be made available by the legislation and would enable the States to implement the Kangan programs for technical and further education.

Mr Beazleysaid proposed amendments circulated by Senator Steele Hall would probably be 'permanently unacceptable ' to the Australian Government.

In the final page of this Press release he went on to say:

.   . if the legislation is amended in the Senate along the lines indicated -

I interpolate that the Opposition had given an indication of where it sought to amend the Bill and Senator Hall had given an indication of where he sought to amend it, and there were differences. I refer back to the Press statement of Mr Beazley, which reads: . . the amendment will probably be permanently unacceptable to the Government. If it is amended at all by the Senate the amended Bill must be considered by the House before it can become law and before funds can flow to the Stales. The recall of the House of Representatives is extremely unlikely.

With the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) going overseas at the end of the week there would not be any prospect of the House of Representatives being recalled.

Senator McLaren - Mr Sneddenwill be away.

Senator GREENWOOD -He will be back early next week, and you know it. The Press statement continues: lt will be necessary for me to warn the State Premiers that there will bc no money forthcoming for technical education at the beginning of 1975.

And I shall have to warn students there will be no Australian Government funds available to pay their tuition fees.

If the Senate amends the Bill the Government will do its best to get the legislation through when the Parliament resumes in February, but it is vital that the States should receive the money by the beginning of the year.

There is the plain intimidation of the Government. It is saying to the Senate: 'If you dare to amend this Bill so that it does not go through today or tomorrow you will be cutting off money which the States want, you will be cutting off funds which students need, and the whole blame will be on the Opposition'. This is the tactic. We are not going to add one whit to the difficulties of Australia. This Government has done enough damage on its own without the Opposition adding any further problems. We resent the intimidation. We do not like provisions in this Bill and given the freedom to do so in differing circumstances we would have sought to have amendments of our own and we could have at least considered the amendment which Senator Hall has moved, but we do believe it is important that this money be available. We do believe it is important that some commonsense be brought back into the educational system and the economy of Australia. I have risen simply to expose the shabbiness of the Government's action and how it is seeking to intimidate the Senate into taking no action in order to secure the passage of its legislation. It is a pity the Government was not fairer with the people of Australia by telling the whole truth.

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