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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 2974

Senator SHORT(11.18) —I just want to follow up in slightly broader terms a couple of points that were made by Senator Walters. I would like to ask the Minister what steps are being taken by the Government to ensure that the biases that we have seen over the last few years in the operation of the Human Rights Commission, particularly in the area of education but going wider than that, will not continue under the new Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. I take the area of edu-cation as an example. The existing Commission has in many of its publications intimated its intention to use the education system to indoctrinate Australian children with its values and ideologies. It has made no pretence at hiding this intention; it has been quite explicit. For ex-ample, at page 73 of Occasional Paper No. 9 en-titled `Teaching, Enacting and Sticking Up for Human Rights', the Commission states:

Joining in the Commission's political project through its reconstructionist educational work, will be appealing to many teachers; they will welcome the opportunity to engage in conscientisation with their students in the interests of social justice. Others will find such work as far too `political' for their liking; they will regard the curriculum too `radical' and far removed from what they regard as `education' to feel comfortable with.

That same document states quite proudly:

. . . its `program makes no pretence at all at being value free'. It has `explicit ideological commitments'.

Just what those commitments are, what the Commission is directing teachers to do with their students is `to reflect upon the social, political, and economic contradictions in the culture and to take systematic political action against oppressive power blocs'.

The sorts of values that are expressed there were reiterated in the 1985 publication entitled `Teaching of Human Rights' which, admittedly, now has been pulled out for review. This publication is directed at school children and contains such gems as:

There has been mass assassination, too, by more covert and direct means.

The reference there, of course, is to Western democracies. In human rightspeak the publication basically is talking about the capitalist world economy. The publication goes on:

The construction of a capitalist world economy, predicated upon dishonesty and greed, has slaughtered uncounted millions the world over through exploitation and the mis-development of global resources. The US and the other while `free market' democracies have much to answer for in this regard.

As I think Senator Walters said, teachers were being bribed to use the text with enticements of payment of up to $500 or, in some instances, $1,000.

I think it is undeniable the attitudes that are reflected in the documents that I have quoted which come from the Commission are quite contrary and alien to many of the values that would be held by the overwhelming majority of the Australian people. They are essentially Marxist-Leninist views. They are not views that are subscribed to by the Australian people. Over recent years the Human Rights Commission has engaged in action which has led the Australian public to have very grave concern about the direction in which the Commission has been going during its existence. There seems to be no guarantee at all-indeed, perhaps the contrary will be the case-that this will not continue as a result of the new legislation.

I would like to give a few examples of some of the other things that have happened over recent times which I think show that the Commission has promoted values and ideologies that are out of kilter with those of most Australians. We had the suppression in 1984 of a major report on affirmative action which the Commission itself commissioned. The Gabriel Moens report was suppressed because it came out with views that were contrary to those of the Commission. We had the banning last year of the then shadow Attorney-General, Neil Brown, from all the offices of the Commission without any cause being shown for such an intolerant and arbitrary action. We had the support by the Commission of the right of the feminist group Women Against Rape to disrupt solemn Anzac Day observances by protest marchers. Again, that action was sanctioned by the Human Rights Commission. The Pettman publications-and I was very interested to hear Senator Evans so adulatory of Mr Pettman-indicate that the Commission regards homosexual relations as an alternative lifestyle worthy of the same recognition and protection as traditional marriage and supports the right of homosexuals to bring foreign homosexual lovers into Australia as immigrants. Again, these are values which I do not believe are shared by most Australians.

I would like to hear from the Minister just which direction he thinks the new Commission will take in the years ahead. What action is the Government going to take, if any, to influence the values and attitudes of the new Commission? If it is not proposing to take any action in that sense, how is it going to ensure that the Commission does take account of the values of most Australians?