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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2717

Senator RAE (Tasmania) - I indicate on behalf of the Liberal Party that our attitude to these amendments is the same as our attitude was to amendments Nos 1 and 2. Whilst we believe that other amendments were necessary we see these as being desirable improvements to the Bill and will support them as second best. I take this opportunity to indicate that we regard as of fundamental importance the acceptance of the principle that there is in a free society a prior right on the part of parents to choose whether their children should be educated at one school or another. That, of course, is the significant concession made by the Government in moving these amendments. I wish to acknowledge that we are delighted to see that the Government has been prepared to make that concession. We believe it is fundamental to the preservation of a free society that that sort of choice should be available. It was thought by the drafters of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights to be a matter of sufficient significance to be included in that Declaration. We regard it as of fundamental importance that the Schools Commission will have regard to this principle.

Amendment No. 4 is a consequential one and makes no change in regard to the aspect of research. There seems to be something of a downgrading of the role of research by the Commonwealth Government in its plans. I take this opportunity to indicate on behalf of the Liberal Party that it is our view that the role of research is a national function which should be coordinated by whatever is the major body under the Commonwealth Government. Research should have a far more significant role than it appears that it will have under the proposals of this Government. We regard research in relation to education as one of the most important developments which can occur to maximise the advantages which can come to the children of Australia from developments in our education system. For instance, we see the necessity for a combination of social research with educational research. The two should be combined. We think there would be very desirable benefits .from the creation of a national research institute. We think it is desirable that there be a co-ordination and dissemination of the material available in relation to research on education carried out in various States of Australia by various institutions and universities and individual persons. I make those comments in passing. It does appear that the Government does not place the same emphasis on the importance of research that the Liberal Party does. The general comments I have made apply to the other amendments. Whilst we think there are other amendments which should have been carried, we accept these as second best.

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