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Wednesday, 27 March 1985
Page: 916


Senator HARRADINE(6.05) —When this debate was adjourned earlier this afternoon, I had indicated that we must be careful about the overenthusiasm that is rampant in some areas of the Bill of Rights. I had indicated that we should be concerned if such a Bill extends the scope of the non-elected High Court of Australia to impose on the Australian people, in effect, judge-made laws relating to our cherished values and social and community standards; worse still, if it clothes the non-elected and non-judicial Human Rights Commission with these powers, accompanied by an unprecedented investigative authority. We must treat that matter with a great deal of care. The lastest proposals of the Government-I believe their status is still that of proposals, although the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) may advise us otherwise-are to make Australia a party to the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which gives individuals the right to take complaints of breaches of the Covenant directly to the United Nations Human Rights Committee after exhausting domestic remedies. I believe that that is a step that is qualitatively different from the steps that have been taken thus far, including the step that was taken by the Government to introduce domestic legislation on the dams case, which have relied on the external affairs power. What if that had been unsuccessful? Had the protocol been signed, would that have given an opportunity for somebody, for example in Tasmania or anywhere else in Australia, to appeal to the other committee? Of course it would not have done so in that particular instance because it was dealing with a world heritage area, but had it dealt with areas such as the family or other areas, it may well have done so.

I had congratulated the new senators. I had indicated, however, that Senator Aulich, in his speech after he moved the Address-in-Reply motion, had bemoaned the fact that a new senator, Norm Sanders, will grace this chamber from 1 July 1985; that is only by kind favour of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Labor Party and those people who control that Branch, by reason of the fact that Kath Venn stood for Parliament. She is a long-standing supporter of the Labor movement in everything that the Labor movement has stood for in traditional terms over many years. She is a great worker in the community and a former deputy leader of the Labor Government in the Legislative Council in my State. She received the third highest primary vote of any of the candidates. She received thousands more primary votes than did Mr Sanders. However, Mr Sanders was elected on the distribution of preferences, particularly on the distribution of block preferences, that is, votes where people simply placed the number one in the square beside the name of the Australian Labor Party. Mr Sanders was virtually elected by the people who exercised that vote.

While talking to a great number of Labor supporters in factories throughout Tasmania, I pointed out that that was the situation. Without exception, all the voters I spoke to were not aware that by placing the number one in the Labor box they would be electing Norm Sanders. They felt very concerned and upset about it. They felt, and still feel, that they were conned. This situation occurred because the Government with the support of the Australian Democrats voted to institute this new voting system. I voted against this proposition. It was not my system; it was the Government's system. I was forced to register my name to ensure that there was a box for me. It was made perfectly clear that the candidate was Kath Venn. It was the Government's legislation, and the Government will have an opportunity of doing something about it. These matters will need to come before the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform.

Let it be perfectly clear that the controllers of the Tasmanian branch of the Labor Party made sure of the election of Norm Sanders to this place. That may be their choice. He was quite obviously their choice above Kath Venn, a long-standing worker for the rights of the ordinary person, a community worker and a former Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council. They preferred to elect a man whose vote brought down the Labor Government in Tasmania. That was their choice. However, they imposed that choice on all the other Labor voters in Tasmania who voted number one in that box. I would like to see a situation whereby that sort of locking in, if you like, of preference votes would not be permitted because it is not a true reflection of the preferential system. Take my own situation as an example. I was forced to go back to the previous election to see how people voted for me, to see how they extended their preferences. Half of them extended their preferences to the Labor Party, half to the Liberal Party. On the basis of that, I had to register two tickets. The same thing applied in a number of other States. There is no way that anybody voting number one in that box would have known where his preference was going. One cannot call that a preferential system of voting. I defy anybody to call it a preferential system of voting. Yet the Act says that there shall be a preferential system of voting for the Senate.

Enough of that for the time being. It would be interesting to see someone take a challenge to the High Court of Australia over the results of an election in which there were dual tickets. It would be very interesting indeed to see whether it resulted in a preferential system of voting. I repeat that this voting system was initiated in this chamber against my wishes and has now resulted in substantial informal votes for the House of Representatives. If there is one method of voting for the Senate and another for the House of Representatives, of course there will be informal voting.

I indicated that I wanted to speak once again on the very burning question of youth unemployment. I have spoken on this subject probably more than anyone else in this chamber. I started doing so some years back. Last year I moved an urgency motion on the question of youth unemployment. Suddenly, people are starting to realise that there are problems. I have warned of them for some years. Specifically, I have indicated the failure of governments to address the problem in the area over which they have control, namely, the Public Service. I draw attention to the fact that notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name points out that the annual report for 1983-84 of the Public Service Board tabled in the Senate last year shows that youth recruitment as a percentage of total annual recruitment of the Australian Public Service has fallen to an all-time low. It notes the disgraceful situation that persons under 21 years of age constituted 22.6 per cent of the Australian Public Service staff in 1966, falling to 12.2 per cent in 1974, and falling further to an all-time low of 6.7 per cent at December 1983. That disgraceful situation has been allowed to develop. It is still developing because of the policies that are being adopted by the Public Service Board in respect of part time employment and its other recruitment policies. The Public Service Board has a discriminatory policy against youth. It is nothing less than that.

I notice that the Minister for Finance and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters (Senator Walsh) has just walked into the chamber. Instead of venting his spleen in the chamber, let him address the question as to why he is presiding over a situation whereby youth recruitment, as a percentage of total Public Service recruitment, has reached an all-time low. Why is the Public Service Board discriminating against youth? Why does not the Minister recommend to the Public Service Board that it cease its discriminatory action against youth? The Minister goes out to the public and makes fine speeches about what the Government will do about youth unemployment. The Minister for Trade and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Youth Affairs (Mr Dawkins) does the same. Yet neither does anything about it. They allow youth to be discriminated against in the Public Service. Furthermore, they fail to create a climate within the general community wherein youth can be employed. The situation has developed over some years, but it still persists and it is getting worse. In relation to youth employment, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has said:

The plain fact is that no government in Australia will now, or in the foreseeable future, solve the problem of unemployment solely through the available methods of increasing the supply of jobs.

Senator Walsh is boasting about the increased number of jobs that have been created. Let us analyse those things. A substantial number of part time jobs have been created. The number of full time jobs is not increasing in the manner required to absorb the number of unemployed and the school leavers who are likely to be unemployed. As the Prime Minister said:

At least equal attention must be paid to the question of reducing the demands for jobs by helping to provide socially constructive alternatives.

What more socially constructive alternative or socially constructive work is there in Australia than the nurturing, care and development of one's own children? So many mothers with dependent children are forced by economic pressures to hold down another job. It is unfair to them, to young unemployed people and to the whole community. It is due in large measure to the failure of the Government to index the family allowance, to increase the spouse rebate as was promised and to reduce the enormous tax burden on the one-income family. In addition, there is a great deal of pressure on youth in today's climate. I mention drugs.

Indeed, I refer to a government funded body, the Youth Affairs Council of Australia. Its executive director, Michael Clohesy, has an interesting record previously of propagandising homosexuality. As part of its forward program for the 1985 International Youth Year it was developing-I do not know what is happening to date but Kath Venn brought it to the Minister's attention-plans to develop networks of young homosexuals, initiating a process of empowerment and pressing for sex education content to include an affirmation that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally valid lifestyles. This is at a time when an epidemic of acquired immune deficiency syndrome is raging. Yet we have a government organisation promoting this sort of thing and developing plans for it. It is time that the Government stood up for the family. If it does not do so, there will be real problems in this society.