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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 2728

Mr BRYANT (Wills) - -It is interesting to note that the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), having established his memorial at Cape Pallarenda, has vanished from the field. The amendment which the Opposition is placing before the House gives honourable members an opportunity to consider the actual structure of such an institute as is being formed so that we can bring a greater consideration to bear upon it than appears to me to have been brought to bear by the people who have drafted the legislation. The legislation says that the Council shall consist of a chairman and 4 other members. My belief, which is based upon my experience as a member of the National Library Council, is that that would be much too small to solve the problems, answer the questions and have the flexibility necessary for such an operation.

What we are proposing to establish is a national institute, the responsibilities of which will range over a very wide area of Australia, its territories, all the sea around about - millions of square miles - and countless different scientific operations. The Australian Labor Party and I believe that it is important that the people who are charged with this duty have enough support amongst their own members to be able to cover the wide field. I put it before the Committee, from my experience of sitting on the Council of the National Library, that even 7 or 8 on a council of this nature is too small a number. We only need one or two people on a body such as this to be away, out of the State, unable to come or absent from the country and it cannot work. It only needs to expand its interest into some newer fields of science or some different field of biological or marine science and it does not work effectively. At the present moment the Council of the National Library would like its numbers to be expanded so it can take in other areas of learning.

I believe that the Minister should have applied himself more studiously to this general question of the establishment of statutory authorities. Therefore we place before the Committee considerations of this nature. I say, as I said earlier, that it is disappointing that honourable members opposite are not turning their minds to the question at all. We believe that an institute such as this should be representative of the learned bodies associated with this particular field of science. We believe we should pay a compliment to people such as those on the staff of the Academy of Science by asking them to submit a panel of names for the position of chairman. I believe also - this has been established practice in several other institutions - that the Parliament itself should be represented on such bodies. I do not believe that this Parliament involves itself in great enough depth in the administeration of the country. There are countless opportunities in instances such as this for all of us to be involved in the administration of bodies established by the Parliament to carry out the nation's work. Therefore, just as the Parliament is represented on the Council of the Australian National Univesity, the Institute of Aboriginal Studies and the Council of the National' Library, the membership of the Parliament itself ought to be represented on the Council of this Institute.

I only regret that this matter has been brought before the Parliament at this time and in this manner. The very way we operate in considering such a matter does not really allow honourble members opposte a chance to examine the measure in the depth to which it is entitled to be examined. We on this side of the Parliament sat down and considered the matter at some length. We had before us people who were prepared to give us advice about the matter. That is the reason why these amendments are before the Committee. As I say, it is disappointing that we can get no adequate consideration of it, and I resent the fact that what consideration is possible is being pursued at midnight. I do not believe that we are paying a proper compliment to the task that this Institute has to perform. I hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to the matters we have placed before him.

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