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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 813

Senator BYRNE (QUEENSLAND) - I direct my question to Senator Davidson, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. I refer to the resolution of the Senate yesterday which referred to that Committee the question of the education of children in isolated areas. Speaking in the course of that debate Senator Davidson stated, as Chairman of the Committee, that there already was a heavy pro gramme before the Committee, including a major reference relating to broadcasting and television. I ask the honourable senator: In view of the need for urgent action in regard to the matter which was the subject of yesterday's reference will he, as Chairman, suggest to the Committee for its consideration that that matter might receive some degree of prior consideration in its programme?

The PRESIDENT - Senator Davidson,as you are in charge of the business of the Senate in the context of a Senate Standing Committee, I call on you to answer Senator Byrne's question.

Senator DAVIDSON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is true that during the debate yesterday on this matter I indicated that the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts was in the midst of a very heavy assignment relating to all aspects of broadcasting and television. A moment's reflection by honourable senators will cause them to realise that the words 'all aspects' indicate that this is a very widespread reference. The Standing Committee has been giving it a great deal of attention. I recall that I indicated also that I would lend my advocacy in persuading the Committee to undertake an early hearing of the matter which the Senate agreed to yesterday. Indeed, in furtherance of this reference, I raised this matter with the Committee at a meeting which was held this morning before the Senate met. I put forward the suggestion, purely as a personal point of view from my position as Chairman, that I thought it would be feasible for us to give this matter urgent attention when the Parliament re-assembled.

The matter of the Isolated Childrens Parents Association was dealt with in the Senate yesterday evening. As I recall it, in informal conversation about it at the meeting this morning there seemed to be considerable agreement on the question. No definite or official decision was made about the time when the matter to which Senator Byrne referred would be taken up. In reply to the honourable senator I would say that when the Committee next meets I will put to it in an official way and seek its general agreement for the matter to be interposed in the current inquiry relating to broadcasting and television. It occurs to me that an inquiry into the matter of education of isolated children is of considerable urgency. I also am of the view that if proper arrangements are made the hearing need not necessarily be a long and detailed one although we would need to take into account a variety of areas of discussion. I respond lo the honourable senator's question by indicating to him that I will take up the matter with the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts and recommend to it that we intervene the reference so that it may receive early attention.

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