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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 884

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Health) (3.55) - in reply - This debate is a cognate debate for 2 Bills, the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill and the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill. The situation is that an amendment has been moved to the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill by Senator Wheeldon so a vote will be taken separately on the 2 Bills at the second reading stage. On the other hand Senator McManus has foreshadowed amendments to the 2 Bills. I suggest that I explain the procedure to the Senate. First of ail we will dispose of the amendment moved by Senator Wheeldon. Then Senator McManus will have an opportunity formally to present his amendment to the first Bill - that is the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill. We will dispose ot that amendment and I expect that that will take the Bill to the Committee stage. Then a vote will be taken on the second Bill to which Senator McManus has also foreshadowed an amendment. I indicate at this time that the Government will not be in a position to support those amendments. First of all the Government will resist - if I may make a distinction - with everything at its command the amendment proposed by the Australian Labor Party. On a different basis, the Government will not support the amendments proposed by Senator McManus. But if necessary I shall come to that matter by way of explanation.

The most important thing which has to be understood in relation to this Bill - I am speaking now about the amendment proposed by the Labor Party - is that there has been one speaker for the Opposition. In fairness I point out that Senator O'Byrne contemplated coming into the debate. But I feel I am under an obligation to say that apart from that no attempt has been made to speak by any honourable senator on the Opposition side. Indeed, most of them have not been here. It is true and it is significant that the arguments which have been put by Senator Carrick, Senator McManus and Senator Davidson have been strong and forceful. I believe that they completely destroyed the concept of the conditions which have been put in paragraph 1, 2 and 3 of the Labor Party's amendment. They have completely demolished in a magnificent way the most significant points in this proposed amendment which is an amendment to defeat the Bill. That is the point honourable senators have to remember. The attitude of the official Labor Party in relation to assistance to independent schools is hammered on to the wall for all time. Let there be no doubt about that. This amendment states:

Leave out all words after "That* . . .

The rest of the amendment is a nice appendage or a nice dressing up. If the amendment to leave out all words after that' is carried we do not go any further with the Bill because the Bill is defeated. The Labor Party is saying in its own documented words - not words as we interpret them - that it is opposed to giving assistance in the form of State grants to independent schools in the terms of the Bill. That is a basic, fundamental policy decision which the Labor Party has made. It has skirmished around it in the past. In the past they have used semantics. When the Bill was introduced in another place the Labor Party did not do that. But it has hammered itself to the wall. I gather that the Labor Party has made a decision now that it is opposed to independent school aid.

Senator Wilkinson - That is in terms of the Bill.

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSONBy defeating the Bill.

Senator Wilkinson - No. In the terms of the Bill.

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSONThe Bill gives additional assistance. It seems to me that that is the issue with Which we are dealing. I do not think I need go very much further. As I say, the appendage in the amendment about the Australian Schools Commission and its implications have been magnificently pointed out by Senator Carrick, Senator McManus and Senator Davidson. That part of the amendment has a clear message of nationalisation of education in Australia. One of the extraordinary things is that we have an amendment which points out that the Labor Party is not going to support independent schools but then in the trunk of the amendment there is a message about what the Labor Party is going to put up in place thereof. I believe we should simply come to the vote. The Government will not accept the amendment. The Government is very proud of what it is doing in the Bill. It is doing what it believes is right and proper in terms of justice and assistance to independent schools. I do not think there is any necessity for me to go beyond what I have said. We should now let the amendment with which we are confronted be put to the vote.

Senator Murphy - I ask leave to propose a rephrasing of the amendment in order to ascertain the sense of the Senate so that items may be put separately on the matter.

The PRESIDENT - I have a written amendment before me which is now the business of the Senate. I think I must be given notice of any further amendment.

Senator Murphy - If I may do so, I ask for leave to reframe the amendment.

The PRESIDENT - Before I formally deal with the matter I must accord an option to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as to whether he is agreeable.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - The situation is that we have had a debate during which Government senators have addressed themselves to the amendment with great vigour.

Senator Byrne - I ask the Minister to hear Senator Murphy's comment and then I think the Minister's comment will be different.

Senator Murphy - Perhaps if I deal with what I intend to do?

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - That rather suggests some arrangement between the Opposition parties, does it not? I wonder which side Senator Byrne is on.

Senator Byrne - I think the Minister would like the alternative words.

The PRESIDENT - The President is not the chamber manager. I can only deal with matters which conform with the Standing Orders of the Senate. The Leader of the Government is in charge of Government business. I shall not take any action until I have obtained total clarity.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - Thank you, Mr President. I should like to finish what I was about to say, if I may. The situation is that I have assaulted the amendment in fairly categorical language. I would be a little distressed if Senator Murphy's altered amendment were to destroy my argument which was so impressive.

Senator Brown - The Minister is embarrassed.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - I am really embarrassed about the matter but there is a certain degree of spirit in these situations.

Senator Murphy - I do not mind. I can do this another way. I will not press the matter. I shall move what I want to move later.

The PRESIDENT - I would be grateful if you would concede that. I think I am bound to rule that the substantive amendment before the Senate must be dealt with before I can deal with anything else.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - I will be as co-operative as I can.

Senator Murphy - I will move it in another way.

Senator McManus - The Leader of the Government in the Senate made the suggestion that there seemed to be some arrangement going on. I think I should point out that everything has been clean and above board.In the first few sentences of my speech I said that we would not support clause 1 of the Labor Party's amendment dealing with the commission but that if the Labor Party could find a way of moving clauses 2 and 3 separately we would support such an amendment. I presume that is what Senator Murphy has in mind.

Senator Murphy - J will move clauses 2 and 3 afterwards in a way which will not offend.

The PRESIDENT - Order! The consensus among leaders - I assume that it will be confirmed subsequently by honourable senators - is that I should put the amendment as it stands at present.

Senator Murphy - I indicate that I would be content to let the amendment proceed to its fate. In due course I could move an amendment which contained clauses 2 and 3 only.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - I suggest that a vote be taken on the amendment.

Question put:

Thatthe words proposed to be left out (Senator Wheeldon's amendment) be left out.

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