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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 2467

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wilkinson (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Order! Senator Rae, please continue.

Senator RAE - It is a pity that the Government is prepared to toy with the interests of children throughout Australia. We wish to see a Schools Commission set up, and I repeat that unreservedly. We accept that there are many things that can be done in the field of education in Australia in relation to which it is desirable that there should be a Schools Commission to be able to make recommendations, obtain information, and generally bring together the facts, the hopes, the aspirations, the ideas, the knowledge available within Australia and direct and funnel these towards the government of the day.

But as for the suggestion that the failure to have State boards and instead to increase the membership of the Commission to fifteen would in any way destroy this concept, it is quite clear that a much greater liaison could be had with all the States by this means than by imposing some intermediary organisation which will only create a bureaucracy and slow down the progress of the Schools Commission. Rather than help, it will almost certainly hinder development in Aus.tralia. But as I indicated in my remarks during the debate at the second reading stage and consideration of the Bill during the Committee stage, if it turns out that for good reason which is explained fully by the Schools Commission there cannot be a satisfactory organisation of the Schools Commission without regional advisory boards then the Opposition is quite happy to reconsider the matter. The firm view that we hold at the moment is that these regional boards would be a hindrance rather than a help. We see a Commission with a greater number of members, able to have sub-committees operating in each of the States, as being likely to speed up rather than to slow down its work.

There are many aspects of this matter to which I would like to refer. I feel that they have been referred to already. I would seek to have those who are interested in this matter avail themselves of the opportunity to read the Hansard record of this debate. I refer not just to the debate at the second reading stage but also to the debate in the Committee stage. I make a public offer now to anyone who so wishes that I shall make endeavours to obtain copies of Hansard so that people can read what happens and not simply receive distorted versions handed down through organisations of which people may be members, which versions do not reflect the fact of what happened and the fact of the argument in this chamber. The Liberal Party Opposition, for the reasons which I have stated, does not propose to accede to the suggestion made by the Minister and will vote against his motion.

Senator Milliner - Mr Temporary Chairman,in accordance with Standing Orders I request Senator Rae to table the letter that he received and from which he read. I think that it was from some Victorian teachers' association or from some body of that nature. I am not too sure, but I ask that it be tabled.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wilkinson - Senator Milliner,will you move that it be tabled?

Senator Milliner - I move in those terms if necessary. I move:

That the letter from which Senator Rae read be tabled in the Senate.

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