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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 1918

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -Order! I think the point of order raised by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has substance to the extent that there appeared to be an imputed reflection in the words used. I consider that they should be put in a more parliamentary form.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I withdraw any suggestion that Senator Carrick was dishonest. I suggest, however, that this sort of partial quotation from a letter, even if not calculated to do so, has the effect of misleading the Senate and is no help to debate. Senator Carrick challenged me to make the paragraph he did quote fit with the one that he has just quoted and which I have just quoted. Whether or not such an obligation devolves on me, I will shoulder it. Senator Carrick reads into this paragraph a request or a demand from this organisation that it be directly represented on a schools commission. It has said in the previous sentence that that is not what it wanted but let us see what it said in this sentence. I quote:

Like the Australian Teachers Federation, ACSSO submitted to the Minister a panel of nominees from which one was chosen as a part-time commissioner.

This is not a panel from which the organisation demanded that one should be chosen. Surely the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), in looking for people to put on this Committee or Commission, would not go round looking for people expert in animal husbandry, water and sewerage, or something like that. Naturally he would be looking for people who know something about education. He would go as widely as he could across the spectrum. That is precisely what the Minister did in setting up the Committee.

Senator Carrick - Keep on reading.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I will keep on reading, certainly. The letter states:

It is our view that if every group represented on the Commission were required to do the same, the result would be a Commission properly representative of the education community, but free enough from sectional pressures to be able to function as an expert, objective body.

Nowhere in that entire paragraph is there a demand that from the panels submitted to the Minister a representative should be chosen in the way that, for example, a senator is chosen or a man from a constituency is chosen for the House of Representatives. If the letter is read as a whole, how is it possible to imagine that Mrs Ryan could have written the paragraph that I have read today if in fact she had intended by the other paragraph the narrow meaning that Senator Carrick puts upon it?

Senator Rae - If the policy had been changed in the meantime she may have had some difficulty of expression.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -This takes us back to what the policy was. It is interesting, by the way, to read of these latter day converts to the idea of a schools commission complaining that they have been misrepresented when it is suggested to the public that they are not in favour of a schools commission. We know how reluctant their conversion has been. I suggest that the purpose of these amendments is, because they know we have this mandate, to emasculate the proposition as far as they can and to turn the Schools Commission into an inflexible and schematic body which will primarily be representative, in the direct and narrow sense, of the interests of the States. This is not a pure and well motivated idea to get a better Commission; this is the Opposition's way of saying that if we have to have a commission- and obviously we have to have one because the electors said that they wanted one- let us have one totally different to what the Government has said it wants in this Bill and let us have one which will hamstring the Minister and which as far as possible will be subservient to the States.

I illustrate the absurdity of trying to set up a Commission based on such inflexible yardsticks as is suggested by the Opposition- that certain specified bodies should elect or nominate.

Senator Rae - Mr Chairman,I take a point of order. I was brought back to the particular clause before the Committee. I suggest that the honourable senator be directed to come back to that clause. Basically we are debating the increase in the number to a total of fifteen. I have not yet moved the amendments to which the whole of Senator James McClelland 's speech has been directed. I know that I referred to them in general terms but only in the broadest sense. I was then brought back to the clause and was not able to continue and make reference to this matter.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In reply to Senator Rae, he spoke for 15 minutes and after that Senator Carrick rose to enable Senator Rae to conclude his remarks. It was at that time, after Senator Rae again rose to complete his remarks, that by way of interjection I asked Senator Rae whether he was confining his remarks to his proposed amendment No. 3 or whether he was directing them in the generality to include his proposed amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5. He said, if I recollect him correctly, that he intended to speak in the generality at that stage, but he agreed that amendment No. 3 would be consequential upon the vote on amendment No. 5 and therefore, in amplification of his remarks on amendment No. 3, it was necessary for him to refer to the effect of proposed amendments Nos 3, 4 and 5. 1 seek clarity on the same matter because I, on behalf of the Government, eventually will have to reply and conclude this part of the debate. I am still speaking on the point of order. I think that, fairly, Senator James McClelland is using rebuttal argument to the statements made by Senators Rae and Carrick. If it be the desire of the Opposition to agree that proposed amendments Nos 3 and 4 are consequential upon what happens in the vote on proposed amendment No. 5, 1 suggest at this stage that we should seek postponement of a debate on proposed amendments Nos 3 and 4 to enable the debate in the generality to proceed.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse -Order! I think it is better not to confuse the issue. A point of order has been taken and I intend to make a ruling on that point of order.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Could I be heard on the point of order!

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