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Friday, 28 June 1996
Page: 3183

Mr CAMPBELL(3.32 p.m.) —I came into the House this afternoon to speak about other matters, but the member for Groom (Mr Taylor) has compelled me to respond to his remarks. I think the member for Groom made a particularly grubby attack; he tried to associate me with Lyndon LaRouche.    There is no-one in this House who has been more critical of LaRouche than I have. He operates in Australia through the Citizens Electoral Lobby. I have made it clear that I think they are, at the very best, fruit loops, but also, in my belief, they are guilty of criminal extortion.

I also add that they play upon the fears of people in rural areas who are under enormous financial pressure. I struck the same thing when I was involved in the trade union movement. The Trotskyites in the movement used to descend on members of the labour force in areas where they were under pressure. I remember what happened in Kambalda where 600 people got retrenched on one day. Within a few days the Trots were there trying to capitalise on the fear that existed in the community.

It is true that I did sign a petition seeking a retrial for LaRouche. I made it very clear at the time that I was doing so as a civil libertarian and that I held no brief whatever for them. Like the member for Isaacs (Mr Wilton), I agree that the preamble we signed was not the preamble that appeared in the paper. When I signed that petition I was aware it had no consequences for Australian holders. LaRouche was convicted and sentenced to 15 years gaol. He was out in less than three. I thought if the man wants a retrial he might go back to gaol—what happened in America was fine. But I have been a consistent critic of that organisation and its methods of operation. I might add that the only people out in the bush who have been putting the counterview and fighting this element have been the League of Rights—not the National Party or the Jewish community in Melbourne.

Clyde Holding makes an impassioned speech to his constituency. I can say this of his constituency: many of them are in fact patrons of or are on the board of the magazine Australian Israel Review. I have been continually subjected to attack in that magazine. I have been subjected to much more abuse from them than I have ever warranted. I believe that they, like LaRouche, are also acting in a very un-Australian way. Nor are they helpless or without friends. They boast that they had Paul Keating himself and four ministers at their annual general meeting. I am sure that no-one deserves the sort of treatment that I have received, although I expect I will get it from both sides.

Having said that, I believe that the particularly grubby and dishonest attack by the member for Groom is based on fear. Well he may be fearful, for I believe retribution will follow for the member for Groom.

I want to talk about an issue involving the Family Law Court. I have said for a long time the Family Law Court should be returned to the Federal Court where there is some sort of control over it.

In the gun debate, which the member for Groom alluded to, the great majority of the deaths he spoke of were in fact suicides. The great bulk of those deaths were driven by factors such as economic hardship—which governments are responsible for and which has also been the cause of family break-ups. If you look at economic hardship, the Family Law Act 1975 and the consequential child support system you will see that enormous injustices exist and the desperation to which people are driven. Believe me, if they do not use guns they will use something else as they do in other places which have even higher rates of suicide.

Unless you are prepared to tackle the underlying causes, you will gain nothing; nothing will be achieved. There is nothing in what the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) is proposing that will attack these issues. One of the reasons is that it would be politically incorrect to attack the Family Law Court or the child support legislation which is an abomination.

I want to talk about the Family Law Court in particular. I know a woman in Western Australia who has been enormously disadvantaged by it. Her husband left her. All the assets of the marriage were her assets. She proposed an amicable split of 50-50, which was very generous. The husband, in fact, at first expressed concern—he said it was too generous. But very soon he succumbed and she fund herself in endless litigation. She was subjected to bullying tactics from a lawyer—a lawyer who, in my estimation, probably made $300,000 out of this—and harassment and bullying by a judge of the Family Law Court who behaved in an absolutely reprehensible way. This was a woman who was on two occasions bashed up in car parks as a result of the trouble she was having.

This is an ongoing trauma. Friends and neighbours have told me that one of her children is quite suicidal about the treatment his mother has received, and yet it goes on. The woman is now being charged with perjury arising out of the court when there were clear cases of perjury which were unanswered and which this particular judge would not respond to. I think the judge's behaviour is certainly inexplicable and is driven either by some notion of male chauvinist superiority or by guilt. In my view, it is guilt driven. This is an outrage. I have mentioned it here in the hope that it will be mentioned in the media in Western Australia where perhaps we can get some justice, which is clearly not available from the court system.

The other issue I want to talk about is what has happened to rural Australia. I have before me letters from people in Lightning Ridge, which I think is in the electorate of the member for Gwydir (Mr Anderson). I do not know why they should write to me because it is 10 years since I have been in Lightning Ridge. Every business in Lightning Ridge would have written to me expressing their concern about actions affecting the rural sector. In particular, they make mention of the diesel fuel rebate, which has had a profound influence on Lightning Ridge. It is not just the diesel fuel rebate which will act disproportionately on country people; there are other aspects too.

The Department of Health and Family Services in Western Australia, faced with budget cuts, has decided simply to axe every one of its regional offices. They are going to concentrate on working from Perth. The truth is that until they moved to regional areas there was no service to country people. That will now be withdrawn. To suggest that they can be serviced adequately from the capital city is bizarre nonsense. I asked about this by way of a question without notice and was refused an answer by the Speaker for reasons which certainly escape me. It is a simple fact: the department is looking at closing every regional office.

We should look at skillshare. The government is talking about closing those offices that do not meet the performance criteria. But no-one knows what the performance criteria are. There are many skillshare offices in my electorate where the criteria will not be met because they are actually teaching people, mainly Aboriginals, to read and write. People have gone through the education system and it has failed them. If these people are not caught now by Skillshare, which, incidentally, is doing the job far cheaper than the education system did, these people would be a burden on society forever.

We see a situation where these offices are likely to be closed down because they are not achieving permanent job outcomes. All they are doing is giving people at least half a chance in life. It is disgraceful because the impact of these cuts will impact dispropor tionately on country areas where we have the highest levels of unemployment and the fewest alternatives. I join with the honourable member for Batman (Mr Martin Ferguson) in urging that the Prime Minister have a good, hard look at this.

Mr Taylor —Are you going to apologise to him?

Mr CAMPBELL —I owe the Prime Minister no apology at all. When the Prime Minister set off around Australia a wave of hysteria and hate against the French, every member of this parliament, you included, knew that there was no threat from French testing whatsoever. You knew there wasn't a skerrick of a threat. He set off this wave of hatred about the French, who presented this country with no threat at all. People now realise that this is the grubby sort of treatment that he has dished out, and he was exposed by his own actions.

I want to make a final point that the member for Groom was simply lying by implying that I was involved with LaRouche.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —Order! The honourable member will withdraw that.

Mr CAMPBELL —All right, he wasn't telling the truth.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —It is not all right. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie will withdraw the word `lie'.

Mr CAMPBELL —I refuse to withdraw that; it is an absolute lie.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I name the honourable member for Kalgoorlie.

Motion (by Mr Martin) agreed to:

That the honourable member for Kalgoorlie be suspended from the service of the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Kalgoorlie is suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours.

The honourable member for Kalgoorlie thereupon withdrew from the chamber.

Debate interrupted.