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Wednesday, 12 February 1986
Page: 165


Senator RYAN (Minister for Education)(12.20) —Let me respond to the points made by Senator Macklin. I think he has misunderstood the provisions in the legislation as drafted. There is every opportunity for councils to make general policy recommendations, be they in relation to regions, amalgamations or any other matter that the councils wish to touch upon. The Government does not want-this is the reason why we cannot accept Senator Macklin's amendment-the councils to encumber their advice by putting in very detailed financial recommendations taking up the bids of individual institutions. It is not appropriate at that stage for that sort of detailed financial information to be included. It has not proved a useful practice up until now. The opportunity for financial recommendations will arise when the six Council members meet as part of the Commission.

Senator Macklin wanted to know what the councils could say about amalgamations. Under the Bill, as drafted, they would be able to comment on the outcome of an amalgamation or on the need for any other changes in a particular region. They would not be inhibited from doing that in any way. What would not be required under the Bill as drafted would be for such general advice to be given then a recommendation that $Xm should accompany their advice. As to the distinction that Senator Macklin was seeking to make between general reporting and specific recommendations, I do not think that is a distinction that we need concern ourselves with. The Commission and the Government will look at the overall advice from the councils and make a judgment about its appropriateness or usefulness; they will make decisions based on the calibre of the advice, not the particular format of the advice. The amendments moved by the Australian Democrats are not acceptable to the Government.