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Tuesday, 23 October 1984
Page: 2238

Senator JACK EVANS(6.17) —The Australian Democrats, whilst agreeing to the appropriations that will be passed by this Senate, do have some reservations because we are concerned that this Government has turned towards the new conservatism which its predecessor Government had embraced so warmly. People of Australia must be wondering whether we have a Labor Government or a Liberal Government when they see the Budget that was presented to this Parliament. I indicated earlier that the Australian Democrats have a great deal of-

(Quorum formed)

A rather fascinating little game of tactics is taking place at the moment. It is fascinating because I had planned to abbreviate my speech to enable us to get into the Committee stage of the Appropriation Bills earlier. It is obvious that the Opposition Whip prefers to use up all of my time by calling quorums.

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle —Just sit down.

Senator JACK EVANS —I have some very important things to be said, just as the honourable senator and some of her colleagues have had very important things to say in the second reading debate on the Appropriation Bills.

Senator Chaney —Just sit down and we will be happy. Stop talking rubbish; sit down. Come on.

Senator JACK EVANS —If Senator Chaney has finished his interjections, I will continue. The Australian Democrats' concern needs to be expressed in this Parliament because the appropriations before us do not address the areas that a lot of Australians believe need to be addressed. These are the new values of the 1980s, the values which take into account an environment which is being rapidly destroyed, and the lack of understanding of the plight of people who cannot get jobs, people of all ages. (Quorum formed) Mr Deputy President, on a point of order, I draw your attention to the clock and to the fact that I now have only nine minutes in which to complete my speech. I indicate to you that I will now be taking up the full nine minutes to complete my speech.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! That is not a point of order but the honourable senator may draw the attention of the Senate to that fact.

Senator JACK EVANS —Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I was making the point that a role is being taken by the conservative pressure groups in regard to this Parliament. In the case of the present Government it is being taken by the unions-dominating the Australian Labor Party in their conservative attempts to address the problems of their self-serving desire to get a bigger slice of the Australian cake. Big business, in its self-serving approach to get a bigger share of the profits out of this cake, is applying pressure to the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia. Unfortunately, until recently the less powerful groups and individuals in the community have been ignored by this Parliament. An occasional bleat comes from political parties in the run-up to an election but, regrettably, for the balance of the term of each Parliament these people are kept out of the system.

I am very proud that the Australian Democrats have become acknowledged throughout this country as the representatives of these less powerful groups and individuals in the community. I would like to specify just a few of these groups to illustrate how they suddenly become recognised in the few weeks before an election, and then are totally ignored for the other two or three years between elections. One group of people in particular who come into this category and who must feel that suddenly they have become very attractive to political parties is the aged in our community. They have been sacrificed to expediency by the Fraser Government and then by the Hawke Government. They were ignored and their plight was totally overlooked by the Parliament until suddenly the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party realised that that massive constituency could change its vote as a result of the way in which the group has been so shamefully treated in the last few years.

The women in the community are still under-represented, not just because there are not enough women in this Parliament but also because the needs and views of Australian women are inadequately represented in this Parliament. Fortunately they now have a voice through all of the Australian Democrats, not just our female senator. The women in my State certainly know that they have a voice speaking on their behalf in the Senate.

Senator Peter Baume —Many things, but not modesty.

Senator JACK EVANS —No, I am not being immodest at all. I am very proud to say that I represent not only the men of Western Australia, but also the women and the aged of Western Australia. The other category I want to refer to encompasses the young people of Western Australia who have been ignored despite the desperate plight that many of them have been led into by Senator Peter Baume's Government in particular. They have also been ignored by this Government, the Hawke Government, simply because of its inaction and unwillingness to do anything about the increasing proportion of young people who are unemployed and destitute in the community. This Budget still does not address the problems of those young people.

There are other constituencies, such as small business, that have not been addressed. It has been fascinating, since I have been elected to this Parliament to see that both the Liberal Party and Labor Party have discovered that small businesses are the backbone of the nation. If they are, why were they ignored by the Fraser Government year after year? Why were they deliberately disadvantaged by the Fraser Government in favour of big business, year after year, and why have they continued to be ignored and left powerless in the community by the Hawke Government? Even in this Budget, the Budget before the election, they are still being ignored. Small businesses and professional people have only one genuine voice in this Parliament, and that is the voice of the Australian Democrats.

There is another group which probably should not be talked about in terms of the aspirations and the interests of the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Labor Party. I refer to the Public Service. I am delighted that the Public Service has seen, through the Australian Democrats, an avenue to this Parliament , to have its needs addressed and to have the problems of people in the Public Service addressed. The members of the Public Service are a very easy target for politicians and lots of other people in the community, and the genuine needs of public servants are not adequately catered for. They need to have a voice in this Parliament, and I am proud to represent members of the Public Service in this Parliament as well.

I wish to refer also to other groups-for example, the environmental groups around Australia that are concerned for our national heritage, those who are concerned that Australia is mining and exporting uranium to build the large nuclear arsenals in the world, and those who believe that Australia should be leading the fight for peace and disarmament but who see this Government doing exactly as its predecessor did, ignoring the potential that is there for Australia to lead in the fight for peace and disarmament. There are many ethnic groups which are studiously ignored by all parties in this Parliament, who regrettably are left off everybody's agenda because of the potential for political flak that might fly in a pre-election environment. The Australian Democrats are proud to put these people and their concerns on its political agenda.

I believe that Her Majesty's Opposition is virtually redundant and ineffective in this Parliament. There is only one effective and constructive critic of the government of the day, and that is the Australian Democrats-not just in the way that we amend legislation and try to create consensus to get better legislation through here, but also in the way that we endeavour to lead this Parliament and the government of the day into new legislative fields. We do this not just for the sake of creating legislation but in an endeavour to have an Australia prepared for the 1990s, and not just constantly looking backwards.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

(Quorum formed)