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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 2011

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - The Government cannot accept the proposition put forward by Senator Rae and which obviously now has the support of the Democratic Labor Party because this proposal of the Government, and the opposition to it by Senator Rae, relate to the very structure of the Commission, a matter which we debated at length last week and again yesterday. We say that this is a deliberate attempt to emasculate the effective functioning of the Commission.

Senator RAE - You keep calling me a liar and eventually I must take exception to it because I have stated that that is not a deliberate intention.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -The honourable senator has stated it. We say that there is an attempt on behalf of the Opposition collectively to emasculate the effective working of the Commission. We believe that this is highlighted by this proposition that clause 16 be left out of the Bill. After all that the Karmel Committee has said on the subject, after the Government has proposed a commission to consist of 12 people- the Opposition has been satisfied to amend the number from 12 to 15- the Opposition then says that we should wipe out all advisory bodies- advisory bodies which the Karmel Committee has suggested should be located in each of the States. I shall refer in some detail to those bodies. Because we genuinely believe that these bodies are essential to the effective working of the Commission, it is my intention to divide the Committee on this proposal.

I think Senator Rae said that several State Ministers for Education had expressed concern to him that there should be included a suggestion that a board shall have such functions as are from time to time determined by the Minister. The advice tendered to me by the educational advisers to this Government is that only one State Minister has expressed concern to the Federal Minister for Education.

Senator O'Byrne - What is his name?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -He was the Victorian Minister for Education. I am advised by my advisers that no other State Minister has lodged an objection with the Federal Minister for Education in relation to this clause.

Senator Rae - Would you like me to table my correspondence?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honourable senator wants to he can do so. They may have complained to him, but the advice tendered to me is that they have not complained or lodged on objection to the Federal Minister for Education. I am further advised that the DirectorGeneral's conference on education has endorsed this proposition. But now the Opposition proposes to delete clause 16. This clause, as I have said, establishes Schools Commission advisory bodies in each State and Territory to provide at that level a widely representative group of people who can assist the Commission in the development of its ideas. The boards are meant to provide 2-way consultation with the Commission and to facilitate consultation with various education authorities, professional associations, teachers, parents and students. As is spelt out in paragraphs 13.6 and 13.9 of the Karmel Committee's report, this arrangement as now suggested in clause 16 is an alternative to attempting to provide for the representation of specific organisations and groups on the Commission itself. Paragraph 13.6 of the Karmel Committee 's report states in part:

If teacher and parent organisations, as such, are to be involved in the work of the Commission, an appropriate place might be rather at the Regional Board level.

Paragraph 13.7 states:

Clearly, a number of the programs recommended by the Committee requires administration at a local level. Also, it is desirable that there should be feedback to the Commission from bodies that are more closely identified with local conditions than the Commission itself can realistically hope to be. Moreover, there appear to be advantages in involving more people in the work of the Commission than can be achieved through direct membership of the Commission. For these reasons, the Committee suggests that the Commission should have Regional Boards through which it can operate. Initially, there might be one Board in each of the 6 States.

In paragraph 13.9 the Karmel Committee made suggestions as to what might comprise the regional boards to which we have chosen to refer as State and Territory advisory boards. This proposal of the Government provides for direct participation at the State level by many more people than can be brought in under the Opposition's amended composition of the Schools Commission. I think its recommendation was that the Schools Commission be comprised of 15 people. If the Government's proposition in relation to the establishment of advisory boards is accepted by the Senate, rather than restricting the advice to 15 people the advice available would be widened if the recommendation of the Karmel Committee that there be about 80 advisory people were adopted.

During the next session of Parliament I, as Minister for the Media, hope to bring down amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act. A large number of advisory committees to the Australian Broadcasting Commission have been established throughout the length and breadth of this country. I dare say that if I, in my capacity as Minister for the Media, suggested an amendment to that Act to deletethe structure of advisory boards to the Broadcasting Commission I would be accused of watering down the effectiveness of that Commission. I say the same argument arises in relation to this matter. The Government cannot accept the proposition that there be no advisory boards. Therefore we oppose the amendment and I intend to subject the Committee to a division on the matter.

Question put:

That the clause stand as printed.

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