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Thursday, 25 February 1971

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) (Minister for Works) - I rise out of respect for what Senator Hannan said and to reply directly to him. The position is that the Australian National University does not make any appropriation out of public funds for the student body. The Students Association is funded entirely by student fees, with very occasional exceptions when it is given minor grants for particular purposes.

Senator Hannan - Are the fees payable compulsory?

Senator WRIGHT - Permit me to get direct advice upon that point. With regard to the submission made to me for the suspension of the operations of these sections, I receive that suggestion with a great degree of understanding. However I still wish to say that the reasons why I ask for the enactment of this Bill in whole today are these: Firstly, the Senate has given expression to its point of view in the amendment moved by Senator McManus. Secondly, we know that the University Council has a responsibility in this matter and we should do nothing to inhibit or usurp it but rely in confidence on it to deal with its responsibilities. Thirdly, civil law enforcement has been referred to and it is my understanding that if a civil offence is established, after proper investigation, the law will be enforced. Fourthly, I take the view that in regard to expressing any judgment, however tentative, upon a particular proposition that may affect the rights of an individual person, a House of Parliament is a most inappropriate tribunal to express even a tentative point of view. So from the point of view of the particular situation I would hope that my counsel that the Bill, as public legislation, proceed on the basis of those matters would be satisfactory to the Senate.

Turning now to Senator Hannan's question about whether fees of the Students Association are compulsorily payable by the students, the answer is yes. As I understand it the University law requires fees to be paid by the Students to the Association.

While on my feet, and in the hope that this will conclude the debate, but not wishing to exclude anybody from speaking, I think that the Senate would wish to know that the situation in all States is that statutes must be approved by the State Governor. In 4 of the States - 'Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania - that is all that is necessary apart from tabling and gazettal procedures which do not involve any power on the part of State parliaments to allow or disallow statutes. In South Australia university statutes need only to be approved by the Governor. However, university by-laws, which in some cases deal with subjects similar to those dealt with by the Australian National University statutes, may be disallowed by parliament. In Western Australia university statutes may be annulled by parliament after they have been approved by the Governor.

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