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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2571

Sir JOHN CRAMER (BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Minister for Education and Science seen 2 publications, one named 'Family Issue of Tharunka', the journal of the University of New South Wales Students Union, with a printed copy of an alleged letter of congratulations from Professor Myers, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and the other a booklet 'Sex' with the imprint U.N.S.W. July 1971'? Will the Minister agree that these publications contain the most vile, disgusting and degrading pornographic material one could imagine? Is the Minister aware that they were sold or distributed at the university to young students of both sexes? Is it a fact that the cost of production of these 2 publications amounted to $930 and was paid for by the funds from the Students Union, which is subsidised by this Government? Will the Minister discuss this matter with the State Ministers for Education to see that appropriate action is taken against those responsible and that the discipline of the universities is strengthened to prevent a repetition of such deplorable conduct?

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I have seen some part of the journals in question.

Sir John Cramer - Here they are. You can have a look at them.

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I thank the honourable member for the offer. I will at an appropriate time discuss the matter with my State colleagues. Putting it in perhaps different words, 1 would certainly agree with the honourable member that much of what is in those journals is unnecessary and I can understand people being very greatly disturbed by their contents. There is no direct Commonwealth subsidy which supports them. They are in part supported by funds from the Students Union and to the extent that there are compulsory fees attached to membership of the Students

Union those fees are paid by the Commonwealth for holders of Commonwealth scholarships and so that is the only area in which there could be said to be any Commonwealth support or Commonwealth link in support of those journals.

I think it needs to be emphasised that the people principally responsible in university areas are the universities themselves and if there is a matter that goes beyond university responsibility or if there is something beyond the control of the universities, then for the State universities it is the State laws which basically apply. For the Australian Capital Territory, of course, it is a matter that is within the Commonwealth's province; but I think it should be pointed out that students are subject to the same laws as are all other citizens in this area. I would strongly support any action that might be taken by those responsible for the administration of laws relating to obscene publications, if those laws had been infringed, to see whether there was any possibility of a conviction. But the action would not be action taken by the Commonwealth, it would be taken by the States.

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