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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2072

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) - I draw the attention of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) to clause 6 (2) of the Bill which states:

An authorised person is, in the exercise of his powers and the performance of his functions under this Act, subject to the directions of the Minister.

It is that last phrase 'subject to the directions of the Minister' which concerns me. I point out that under clauses 7, 10 and 14 of the Bill the main functions of an authorised person appear to me to be to grant awards and scholarships and in each case it is particularly provided that the authorised person may approve the grant subject to and in accordance with the regulations. It seems to be anomalous to import directions of the Minister into that situation. As I understand the position, the idea of authorised persons being delegates of the Minister, being authorised by the Minister and having a chief officer in each State is to cope with the problems created by the size of Australia. That is what the Minister said in his reply. But if he is going to go through files and award scholarships in accordance with the regulations, why should he be subject to the directions of the Minister? I do not know whether the Minister has any legal advice available to him with regard to the drafting of these things. But I would ask him whether there is any precedent in the previous Scholarship Act or in any similar legislation for a specific direction that the authorised person is to be subject to the direction of the Minister in connection with his functions and duties.

I wish to add only that my concern is somewhat blunted by the provisions of Part V of the Bill which provides for a review of decisions. But we all know that it is one thing to have a straight out proper system of primary award and another thing to obtain a just review. But this review procedure does not seem to me to explain, justify or excuse the provision that in the award of scholarships the authorised person should be subject to the directions of the Minister. I would like to hear comment from the Minister on that provision.

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