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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1285

Senator WOOD (QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. In reply to a question asked of him by Senator Jessop the Minister stated that there was an insistence by the Commonwealth Government, in view of the great amount of money it provided to universities, that there shall be proper conduct at the universities to enable students to study. I ask: What steps are being taken by the Commonwealth Government to express this insistence? What steps have been taken by the Commonwealth Government to protest at the damage caused to property at universities, such property having been paid for by the taxpayers of this country?

Senator WRIGHT - It would not be possible for me to particularise the steps that have been taken. We are moving in a somewhat diplomatic and delicate field because it is essential to preserve the academic autonomy that universities have traditionally enjoyed and also to recognise the primacy of responsibility that the State governments have in the field. I thought it was appropriate in answering questions today and yesterday to remind honourable senators of the heavy responsibility the Government carries in the great amount of money that it appropriates to these, institutions. At this stage, so far as I know, there are no further particular steps to which I could point. As to damage to university property, it will be remembered that in one instance where this occurred, some members of the Senate, implied by questions that the Commonwealth, having sought to execute warrants within the university and having been met by efforts on the part of students which involved damage to property, should bear the expense of repairing that property. That, of course, was pooh-poohed by my colleague the Attorney-General. With regard to damage to university property, recovery from anybody who was responsible for that damage could be only at the instance of the university government itself.

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