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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 3215

Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - I agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator Wood and with those echoed by Senator Carrick. I certainly agree with the estimates they make of the noxious aspects of this clause, the way it has harmed many hundreds of thousands of people in Australia and the damage it will do to the private school system in this country. However, I have replied in writing to the many hundreds of people who have written to me and have said, just as Senator Carrick has said, that the clause is part of the Government's Budget proposals. Its defeat should cause an election, if there is a serious assessment of the Budget by the Government of the day. I assume that the Opposition is not ready to cause an election at this time. I assume also that Senator Wood is not ready to cause an election. That being so I cannot be a party to promoting that contest again for the second time this year. Therefore I must join with the Liberal and Country Parties in reluctantly not opposing the clause. I cannot find the words to explain my reluctance to vote with Senator Wood. It would take far too long and hold the Senate up uselessly to spread my limited vocabulary as wide as I should like.

I think the matter should be put in simple terms. I think it is not really a matter of expressing just the opinion that Senator Wood has. It is a matter of whether this House will say there ought to be an election on this issue. That is the simple issue and it ought to be put in plain terms. There would be people who would be disappointed in Senator Carrick, myself and others on his side for not following Senator Wood. They ought to know the reason. If I could vote in this House simply to excise that clause and leave the rest of the machinery run on, I would do so. Make no mistake about that. That is what I would do if that were the simple choice before me. But I recognise that it is not the simple choice. As I have said, the question is whether there will be an election on this issue. As I cannot countenance that at this time I express my very great concern at this matter. I end my short remarks by saying publicly what I have said to everyone who has written to me: The only way in which this matter can be put right is to defeat the Government so that the position can be restored by a non-Labor administration.

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