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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2075

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) - I am obliged to the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) for the full information he gave me in response to my question. I ask him to bear with me for one moment with my concern. As the delegate under the 1969 Act was a delegate of the Minister and did everything in the name of the Minister there was a uniformity of one officer administrating regulations. This seems to imply a system whereby a number of authorised persons have the primary responsibility for administering regulations but in the exercise of their functions the Minister may give particular directions. I leave it at that because I have had my concern blunted somewhat by the fact that there is a review tribunal. May I pass over the question in clause 7 where 'a permanent resident' is the expression used and is denned to be a class of resident chosen by the regulations. I did not find very helpful the reference to migrants and those who hold temporary visas, as stated by the Minister in his reply to the second reading debate. I do not know whether I am to understand from it that the only class of person who is to be considered as a permanent resident, other than an Australian citizen, is a migrant to this country who has not become an Australian citizen. I rather gathered that that was the intention. I would be pleased to know whether that is correct.

I now direct the attention of the Minister to clause 9 of the Bill. If this is simply a provision which says that all existing Commonwealth scholarships shall, in the words of the Minister when he replied, continue for the remaining year for which they are awarded, I am surprised to see the clause in this form. I suggest to the Minister that if that is the purpose there are 2 obvious defects in the clause. Sub-clause ( 1 ) of clause 9 says that, if a Commonwealth secondary scholarship granted before the commencement of this Act has not expired or been terminated, then that scholarship is, by force of this Act, terminated. We have no knowledge of the existence of those scholarships. A scholarship can be terminated before its natural time only for cause. Honourable senators will notice that regulation 33, which has been copied from our 1969 legislation and which we were very careful to insert at the time, makes provision for the suspension or termination of student assistanceships so that definite criteria for cause are provided for their termination. But sub-clause ( 1 ) of clause 9 says that all existing Commonwealth scholarships are, by virtue of this Act, terminated.

Sub-clause (2) of clause 9 says that where an existing scholarship is terminated an authorised person may approve the grant of a scholarship, which is referred to by the name 'senior secondary scholarship', in respect of the course of secondary education to which the existing scholarship related, to the person who was the holder of the existing scholarship. The first of the 2 defects that I press upon the Minister in regard to that provision for continuance or renewal is that this approval is at the discretion of the authorised person. The Bill does not say that this person shall grant to all holders of existing Commonwealth secondary scholarships senior scholarships of the same benefit. The second defect, reinforcing my concern about that discretionthat he may do it- is that, as honourable senators will notice, there is no requirement that in his approval of senior secondary scholarships in this case he shall act in accordance with the regulations. That is a marked omission from the power of the authorised person which we insisted upon with such force in 1 969. 1 cannot understand why there is not a simple provision that all Commonwealth scholarships in existence at the time of the passing of this Act shall continue as if they were scholarships granted under this Act. Why the termination without cause? Why is there a discretionary right to renew- a discretion that is not subject to regulations?

Senator Rae - But it is subject to review.

Senator WRIGHT -Oh, yes, it is subject to review; but it is not required to be subject to regulations. I cannot understand why we are adopting the manoeuvre of terminating a scholarship that is in existence. Ordinarily, if we were dealing with subordinate legislation a regulation containing a provision of that sort would be disallowed immediately. It is a provision for arbitrarily terminating a vested right of scholarship which, having been awarded at the beginning of 1973 for 2 years, subject to the conditions upon which it may be terminated, would go on to the end of its period. I seek from the Minister an explanation as to why this course is being adopted.

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