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Friday, 9 December 1983
Page: 3574

Senator RYAN (Minister for Education and Youth Affairs)(9.25) —in reply-Mr President, I conclude my remarks on the second reading debate of the States Grants (Education Assistance-Participation and Equity) Bill, the States Grants (Schools Assistance) Bill and the States Grants (Tertiary Education Assistance) Amendment Bill by saying that the Government will not accept any amendments to this legislation. They are money Bills and it is important for them to be completed forthwith.

I foreshadow to the Australian Democrats the Government's intentions with regard to strengthening the appeal procedures. The Australian Democrats suggested to the Government that we should consider making decisions of the Commonwealth Schools Commission with regard to categories of schools and income testing appealable to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. However, having discussed this matter with the Schools Commission and with Senator Macklin, we have now decided that a more appropriate, more effective strengthening of the existing appeals procedures would be to establish within the Schools Commission an independent tribunal, independently chaired, similar in character to the tertiary education assistance scheme tribunal or the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. Such a tribunal would provide expertise in the matters under consideration and would be an avenue of appeal other than that currently available to the Commission itself.

There is already a very extensive appeals mechanism in place, and appellants who are dissatisfied with that form of appeal can seek the protection of the Ombudsman's Act and the Federal Court of Australia. Senator Macklin has indicated on behalf of the Australian Democrats that he supports this concept of independent appeals. Once this matter is approved by the Cabinet the Government can proceed forthwith to set up the tribunal and the necessary legislative action can be taken early in the new year. That matter is foreshadowed, but I conclude my remarks by indicating that no amendments will be accepted by the Government.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.