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Wednesday, 27 March 1985
Page: 922


Senator COATES(6.53) —In the time that is available before 7 o'clock I will begin my speech on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General's Speech opening the new Parliament. First of all, I welcome the new senators, especially those in the Labor team from Tasmania, Terry Aulich and Ray Devlin. I regret that John White was not also one of those who were successful. A little earlier this evening Senator Harradine expressed his regret about Norm Sanders becoming a senator in July. He suggested that his candidate, Kath Venn, should have been elected in Norm Sanders's place. He made the point that Dr Sanders, when a member of the State Parliament, voted in such a way that a State Labor government fell. I point out to Senator Harradine that Mrs Venn, at the election before last, encouraged electors to vote for non-Labor candidates. So his candidate is not totally pure on that matter.

I will try to put the record straight about the how to vote arrangements in Tasmania. Senator Harradine knows that the Labor Party has generally taken the view that, all things being equal, the simplest ticket is the one which we generally adopt. For the first time in living memory, I think, the Labor Party drew the first position on the ballot paper. We made the how to vote card as simple as possible by going across the ballot paper. Senator Harradine may regret the result of that as far as his candidate is concerned, but the prime factor is simplicity. I also point out about the voting method that if we had optional preferential voting, which is our preference, there would be no need at all for parties to extend preferences in their how to vote pamphlets. People could, if they wished, extend their preferences according to their choice. If we had optional preferential voting that could still happen. We were not able to bring that in. The compromise result of the double ballot paper was what we had. We know the consequences of that as far as House of Representatives informal voting went. But it was not the prime wish of the Labor Party to have that system.

Having referred a few moments ago to the new senators in this place, I wish to make reference to a new senator who made her first speech today, Senator Vanstone from South Australia. She gave us a spirited defence of capitalism and, if I am not quoting her incorrectly, complained that the Left had hijacked the language of morality. She said that she opposed the rights of the individual giving way to those of the community. But I think she and others who make these simplistic suggestions should remember that the community is made up of many individuals, of many real people. It is nonsense to say that somehow or other the individual is crushed or forgotten about when one talks about the general responsibility of government for the community as a whole. She and others are arguing in defence of selfishness. She did it very strongly, and from her point of view she did it well, but I disagree with her. It can be said, though, that the enlarged Parliament has brought many more well-qualified members and senators who obviously will make a valuable contribution to this place. In particular, the extra numbers will help us spread the heavy Senate committee workload which has been building up over the years.

I turn now to the Governor-General's Speech. As he said, the last two years have seen the success of the Labor Government's programs to revitalise the economy. That job is not complete. There is still a lot to do. For example, there is a continuing problem with unemployment of youth and the not so young. Continuing action is necessary. I will come back to that issue later in my speech. I talk first about taxation. As we all know, 1985 is the year of major tax reform. Honourable senators will recall that 10 years ago, in 1975, there were what now seem to be some relatively minor reforms but which were, at the time rebates were introduced in the Hayden Budget on August 1975, quite major changes.

Debate interrupted.