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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 1998

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Once again the words which the Opposition seeks to import into this sub-clause of clause 13 illustrate its true feelings about the establishment of the Schools Commission which, in defiance of its history, it now pretends not to oppose. The gravamen of the amendment is contained in the words which have been read to the Senate by Senator Douglas McClelland, namely, 'the right and responsibility of the State and individual school authorities to determine the specific allocation of such financial assistance . . .' This, in my opinion, is an attempt to break down the clear power conferred on the Australian Government by section 96 of the Constitution, which is a power to grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit. There is a series of High Court interpretations of this action which makes it clear beyond peradventure that the Australian Government is entitled to attach whatever conditions it thinks fit to grants under section 96. Indeed previous governments- Liberal-Country Party governments- have attached such conditions to its grants and they have insisted that those conditions be adhered to. I would like to ask Senator Rae whether he has in contemplation by the insertion of these words- that is, if they are to mean anything other than a pious wish- that the Schools Commission could make a grant to a particular school specifying that it should be used for a new classroom but presumably it would be permissible for that school to spend the money on a swimming pool. If the words which he proposes to insert in that subclause mean anything, that is what would be possible. For that reason we reject this amendment.

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