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Thursday, 25 February 1971

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - The amendment moved by Senator McManus is an unusual one. lt has received some support around the chamber, but it will receive no support from us. It is unfortunate that Senator Wright, who is the Minister representing the Government in this debate, has not chosen to indicate the official attitude of the Government by speaking to the amendment before speaking to close the debate. I understand that he has not chosen to do so. So, we are not aware of the Government's attitude to the amendment.

Senator Wright - I support the amendment.

Senator MURPHY - 1 thank the Minister. The Government supports the amendment; we do not. The reason why we do not support it is that if this publication, which has been referred to but which 1 understand has not even been tabled in the Senate, is an offence against the law it should be dealt with according to law; but, if it is not, it is no business of the Senate to be concerned with it.

The attitude of those who would support such an amendment is a curious one. Here is a Bill which is intended to provide representation for the student body on the Council of the Australian National University. Although it does not provide as much representation as we believe there should be, that is what the Bill is intended to do. Those who support the amendment choose to use such a Bill as a vehicle for airing their attitudes on a particular publication

Senator Wright - The amendment makes no reference to a particular publication.

Senator MURPHY - I thank the Minister lor that observation; but in fact those who have spoken have referred to a particular publication which has not even been tabled in the Senate and which may or may not be the subject of some proceedings elsewhere. If the amendment is nol intended to be based on that particular publication, it is even worse, because honourable senators are seeking to express their own views and to give a lesson or to set down some kind of a sermon for the student body of the Australian National University.

Senator Byrne - Are you suggesting that it is not appropriate for the Senate to have an opinion on a matter such as this because it may be the subject of some legal proceedings.

Senator MURPHY - The Minister has said that the amendment does not relate to a particular publication.

Senator Byrne - Let us presume that it did.

Senator MURPHY - If it did and especially if it was seriously considered that tome proceedings should or might be instituted in respect of that publication, I believe that it would be quite wrong for the Senate lo concern itself with it. The Senate will deal with a matter which is or might be the subject of judicial proceedings if it is a matter of great public importance and, in balancing whether the Senate should intrude into that judicial sphere against the national importance of the matter, one will come down on the side of national importance. ( think it is pretty far-fetched to suggest that the Senate would regard an individual publication of the student body of the Australian National University as being such a subject of national importance that we should add such an unprecedented rider to a Bill.

I suppose that this kind of amendment illustrates the attitudes of persons on moral questions, ft is generally those who are not interested in referring to the immorality of incidents such as the Vietnam war, who will pass over the massacres that are occurring there-

Senator Hannan - By which side?

Senator MURPHY - Those who are not the slightest concerned about that which is being done, if you like, by those on our side and which is proved beyond any question. It is always the persons on one's own side whom one is in a position to do something about correcting. One is hardly in a position to do that in respect of the other side. The immorality of. the war and the dreadful massacres does not concern these people. They turn from that and are able to salve their consciences by saying: 'There is some terrible immorality going on. A bit of a magazine has been issued and we do not like what is in it. So let us drag that up in the national arena. Let us for the first time add a rider to a Bill because somebody has published ' something which may or may not have infringed the law'. I am not entering into that issue because I have not studied the publication. What has this to do with the Senate?

In the course of the debate one finds that people indicate that they are insistent that in some way their values ought to be the values of everyone; that in some way the younger generation - these young men and young women - have Strayed from the path of virtue. These people say, in effect: If only they will see the light they will come back and share the values of the generations that are passing out of this world'.

The plain fact is that the young men and women more and more are rejecting the myths, the superstitions, the beliefs and the values of those who are supporting this amendment. Whatever the worth of those beliefs and values may be, that is a matter that will be sorted out by the young mcn and women. Some of them will be sorted out in different ways. But each generation will do this for itself.

I believe that the Senate would do much better to attend to its own affairs and let the Council of the University have the representation that it sought for these young people The Senate ought to be well satisfied with what is being done in that respect. Rather than to be criticising the young people in the Australian National University or the young people elsewhere, we would do better to start criticising ourselves. Those who are looking for improvements and seeking a virtuous approach to life should ensure that each person is doing the utmost he can to attain the values which have been pontificated on here, or should he looking at themselves and at our institution* before handing out lessons to others.

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