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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2225

Senator MINCHIN (3.40 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Family Services (Senator Crowley), to a question without notice asked by Senator Minchin this day, relating to the home child care allowance.

The Minister for Family Services (Senator Crowley) again today denied making any threat to Mrs Carroll in Adelaide on 8 March in relation to the home child-care allowance. She has done that despite my tabling of Mrs Carroll's statutory declaration. I remind the Senate of the very clear words in that declaration which say that Senator Crowley said, `If you're not careful, I might just take the home care allowance off you lot'.

  The minister, in her denial, is basically now saying to the Senate that Mrs Carroll has lied in her statutory declaration. She is saying that the witness to this conversation has lied. Further, and even worse, she is asserting by implication that Mrs Carroll has falsely sworn a statutory declaration and thus committed an offence.

  That is the gist of what Senator Crowley has done in the Senate today. She is using the privilege of this parliament to make an accusation against Mrs Carroll, who of course does not have the privilege of being able to respond to what the minister has said. Indeed, I challenge the minister to swear her own statutory declaration denying Mrs Carroll's statement. I ask her to put her word on the record and run the risk of a contempt for swearing a false declaration.

  Unfortunately, what the minister has been up to is absolutely typical of this government. This government is a bullying government. It is a government of intimidation and threats. It was elected in 1983 on a platform of consensus, but what have we seen? We have seen 10 or 11 years of intimidation, bullying and threats of the kind that Senator Crowley used in Adelaide on 8 March with Mrs Carroll.

  We have seen the government's intimidation in the most outrageous circumstances. The Housing Industry Association, merely because it sought to campaign on an issue in the last federal election, was intimidated by the government and is now blackballed by this government because of the association's audacity in opposing it on a particular issue.

  We have seen intimidation in relation to this Senate. The government is intimidating the Senate by threatening that it will change the system. The government is threatening to abolish the Senate, change the electoral system or whatever just to try to keep the Senate in line. We have seen intimidation in relation to the states. If the states do not toe the line, they are threatened. The latest episode is that the business community is now being threatened that there will be a wages break-out if the business community does not pull its finger out and start investing more money. That is the most extraordinary proposition that we have heard for a long time.

  This government's whole modus operandi is to make various community groups and people develop a public handout mentality, get them dependent upon the government and then threaten them that, if they do not toe the line, they will be thrown out and will lose their money. It is the most extraordinary way to operate, and we have seen it again today.

  The minister is now exposed for having threatened Mrs Carroll and misled the Senate in relation to this whole matter. This minister and this government are simply not interested in women who choose to care for their children at home. The government is unsympathetic to their position and plight. The concern of the government seems utterly to be with those women who put their children in child care. They get paid to put their children in child care. But, for those women who choose to care for their children at home, it is bad luck, brother—they miss out completely. (Time expired)

  Question resolved in the affirmative.