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Thursday, 25 February 1971

Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) - The Opposition is not trying to duck the issue in this debate. The Bill seeks to amend the Australian National University Act, the issue being that there should be representation of the Australian National University Students Association on the Council of the University. All honourable senators would agree that that would be desirable. Not only would it bring about a greater understanding and an exchange of communication but also it would be educational for both the older people and the younger people to meet together on the councils of the University. 1 can assure Senator Young that we are not trying to duck the main issue, if the Bill hail been introduced last week, prior to the publication of the magazine to which reference has been made, the Senate would have agreed unanimously - if not in writing, in principle - to this amendment: but the Senate believes thai a university student body seeking representation in the control of a university has a sense of responsibility and a regard for the good name of the university.

I am quite certain - I can speak from my knowledge of members of various university organisations - that these people hold their universities in very high esteem and that they are men of responsibility. But this great issue has arisen as though it was world shattering. We have to admit that, throughout our lives, individually or collectively, we have come in contact with material similar to that contained in the publication to which T referred. Some people are prepared to accept it; others object to it. The matter is entirely a matter of individual judgment as to what should be done with material such as this. Publication of this material cannot be prevented.

Senator Little - Do you think it is responsible for students to tell the Postal Department in great scientific detail how to do its job?

Senator O'BYRNE - I have always held to the adage that I am not my brother's keeper.

Senator Byrne - You are the keeper of the public purse.

Senator O'BYRNE - The public purse can be protected in proper, legal ways. To add an inflammatory and an emotional amendment such as that moved by Senator McManus to an important Bill concerning the highest seat of learning in our land would be foolish. If the amendment is accepted, we would be looked at with contempt by those who think the Senate should not spend its valuable time because of a quick and emotional response to something which was not of the University's making and not of the University Student Association's design. Evidently individuals have seen fit to do this sort of thing. Senator Young accused Senator Murphy of dragging morality into the issue. Senator Young said that he would be prepared to debate this at any time. I think the Senate should be judging the morality of students collectively. We should look at the matter in its proper perspective. f.f we bring morality into the issue, we should look at some of the moral problems that we could properly be discussing. One matter of morals is: Honour your father and your mother. But 50,000 mothers and fathers are living in hovels. This is a matter that we could quite easily be discussing if we wanted to discuss matters of morals. Senator Murphy drew attention to this matter of morals: Thou shall not kill. Yet photographs have been taken of Gls holding up the heads of 2 victims. The photographs are sent home as souvenirs. I have nol heard of any censorship of such photographs. Morality is relative; it is a matter of semantics. We could be discussing this matter: Thou shall not steal. In our society usury is the accepted order of the day - hire purchase, high interest rates, restrictive trade practices and the like, and stealing from one another. In this chamber there has been no debate on this matter of morals: Thou shalt nol bear false witness. Smearing people, Com-baiting and like matters could be discussed.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator O'Byrne, 1 think you would be doing your argument and case a good deal of benefit if you returned lo the matters before the Chair.

Senator O'BYRNE - I will return to the amendment. I think it is a specious and an unworthy amendment because it deals with a situation that deserves to be dealt with by a tack hammer and not a sledge hammer. The matter could be dealt with at other levels, not at the Senate level. We would degrade the standard established in this legislation if we carried such an addendum to (he Bill. Unless we have confidence in our students and unless we are prepared to build them up and to give them opportunities to face the challenge of the future, we are doing them an injustice. I suggest that the Bill should be agreed to and that we should get on with the job of achieving greater unity, harmony and cooperation in the University. I ask the Senate to reject the amendment.

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