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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 613


Senator HARRADINE (1.42 p.m.) —I wish to raise a very important question of human rights. I raise it on the basis of the fact that the government is proposing to provide moneys through the UNFPA—the United Nations population fund—to the Indonesian BKKBN to train population program operatives for the Asia and South Pacific regions. To me, this is a very serious question indeed. It is one that the government as a whole should be very concerned about but apparently is not. The Minister for Development Cooperation and Pacific Island Affairs, Mr Bilney, has an agreement with Indonesia. Moneys have been paid to the United Nations population fund which, itself, was involved in the management of the brutal Chinese population program which involves coerced abortions and sterilisations.

  It was also involved—I have evidence for this statement, which I have presented previously to AIDAB—in coercive practices in Indonesia. Despite this, AIDAB has gone ahead and paid the UNFPA to get the BKKBN, Indonesia's national family planning coordinating board, to train up people in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands in their techniques of population control programs. I am very concerned about this, not only because it is a violation of human rights but also because of the deception practised in the Indonesian program.

  Only as recently as 24 February, in this Parliament House, Dr Haryono Suyono, in the presence of Minister Bilney at the press conference where they published their agreement, when asked if it was true that the long acting hormonal contraceptive-abortifacient implant, Norplant, was being promoted as a beauty aid, failed to deny it. Not only did he fail to deny it; he compared promoting Norplant to promoting Coca-Cola, with these words:

. . . like when you introduce Coca-Cola you introduce it not like a kind of drink but rather to put yourself there, everywhere and things like that. This is the way to inform people and to get them attracted to it.

So what the BKKBN is doing is deceptively presenting Norplant as the new susuk, like gold under the skin, opening the path to good luck, beauty, wealth and so on.

  That is deception, and we are paying for it. One of the statements made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Gareth Evans) when I raised these matters—not only this matter but violation after violation of human rights and evidence therefor—was that he was quite prepared to subject the foundations of the government's population program to scrutiny. He said:

The principle of voluntarism is central to all of our population activities.

If that were truly the case, the keystone of the independent inquiry's report into population and development, which was commissioned by the government, would be just that—the issue of human rights. Let us see what that keystone was. The keystone was a contribution by Dr Karen Oppenheim Mason, who is currently a senior fellow at the East-West Centre in Honolulu and who is also engaged by the Rockefeller Foundation, which in turn has a long history of support for population programs throughout the world.

  On 24 March 1994, when I raised a question in the Senate about Dr Oppenheim Mason, Senator Evans said:

But my understanding of the status of Ms Oppenheim—

he did not even know her name—

is that she is an internationally regarded expert in that area.

What area? He said:

. . . one of the key questions in terms of population issues and the aid support therefor is the question of coercion.

In the area of coercion, on her own admission, Dr Oppenheim Mason has stated that she has never written on human rights issues, and that becomes clear when one considers her contribution in this area.

  I am amazed that the government recruited an `expert' on human rights who has never written on the subject, who does not know what human rights are, who hardly believes they exist and who consistently shrinks from making any categorical condemnation of almost any government population related action on human rights grounds, no matter how heinous. Ultimately, the authority for the whole of that inquiry rests squarely on her report, and she has failed miserably.

  The shallowness of Dr Mason's analysis is clearly demonstrated by her use of the old chestnut of cultural relativism in order to mitigate abuses of human rights overseas which would never be tolerated in Australia. Whatever our differences in languages, history, law or religion, we and our Asian neighbours are all—as members of the human family and indeed as members of the United Nations—committed to providing our citizens with a social order which secures the universal and effective recognition and observance of human rights. If we wish to forge closer ties with Asia and indeed with the island nations of the Pacific, it seems bizarre to argue that our neighbours are incapable of recognising cherished human freedoms or observing their international obligations.

  Let me give an example of the appalling humbug in Dr Karen Oppenheim Mason's report. Dr Mason's theme song is that the end justifies the means and persons are economic fodder. `Should incentives be used to encourage the poor to participate in the population control program?' her report asks. Her comment is brutal. Page 22 of her paper says:

While some observers regard state manipulation of the private costs of children in this manner as morally repugnant, others regard it as an appropriate policy tool no less ethical than farm subsidies designed to discourage the over-production of crops. Thus whether population programs should avoid the use of incentives on human rights grounds is a question that cannot be given any simple, abstract answer.

Do Australians regard their children as crops? Do parents in our neighbouring countries regard their children as crops? Dr Mason seems quite willing to accept almost any government interference in private lives as long as third world bureaucrats assert that national welfare is threatened.

  The shallowness of Dr Mason's analysis is again clearly demonstrated by her use of that theme of cultural relativism. That, of course, is a basis for violating human rights. On page 4, she says:

Western democracies tend to give precedence to individual liberties, but many eastern bloc and third world countries regard the obligation to provide basic social entitlements as being far more fundamental and, where these two sets of values conflict, may choose to abridge individual liberties in order to ensure the provision of social entitlements.

This is the excuse given by every totalitarian state for snuffing out individual freedoms. It is no more acceptable to the citizens of China or Iraq than it is to the citizens of Australia or France.

  I heard the Russian delegate to last year's world conference on human rights in Vienna speak these sobering words on this issue. He warned against the following:

. . . special concepts of human rights for Asia of the south, as well as against a selective approach to some categories of rights as compared with others.

He went on to say:

Our own experience provides that in countries where freedom is traded for bread both are deprived eventually.

Of course, it is undeniable that deep-rooted and significant cultural differences exist between Asian civilisations of the Pacific rim and western nations like Australia, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which we have all subscribed, guarantees in its 30 articles a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations. No nation, without exception, is entitled to ignore the fundamental human rights.

  My office has prepared a commentary on Dr Mason's paper. I will shortly seek leave to incorporate that document in Hansard. Before I do so, I want to reiterate the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations conventions which document internationally recognised human rights use as their pole star this original declaration of 1948, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights contained therein are universal and inalienable. They have been ratified by nearly every government on the face of the globe. By one estimate this means about 97 per cent of the world's population accepts their authority. Dr Mason seems to be part of the three per cent who do not. She argues:

There are a number of problems in using these documents as a basis for making ethical judgments about particular government programs, policy or actions.

I am amazed that the government should recruit a person who is not an expert on human rights. I hope that the government will see the problems in this chapter. Dr Mason complains that there are so many rights spelt out in various UN conventions that is often difficult to determine which rights take precedence. She makes a mockery, in fact, of the crystal clear proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The whole of the parliament should have a look at what she is saying, the direction of that particular paper and its implications for Australia. I invite honourable senators and, indeed, all members of parliament, to read this paper. I seek leave to incorporate the document in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The document read as follows

Comments by Senator Brian Harradine's Office on Population Inquiry Background Paper No. 9 entitled "Population Programs and Human Rights" by Dr Karen Oppenheim Mason PhD

Incorporated into Hansard by Senator Brian Harradine May 11, 1994

INTRODUCTION

  Australian taxpayers have spent $320,000 on the Independent Inquiry Report into Population and Development. In return they have received a whitewash of Government policy on Third World population. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Gareth Evans, told us before the appointment of the inquiry that the Government was "quite prepared to subject the foundations of our population program, as indeed other policy issues, to this kind of scrutiny"—a scrutiny which is "conducted rationally and on the basis of the best available evidence"(1). If the Inquiry is a benchmark for the quality of Government policy-making, then this nation is in great trouble.

  Senator Evans has assured us that "The principle of voluntarism is central to all of our population activities"(2). If that truly is the case, the keystone of this Inquiry is the contribution by Dr Karen Oppenheim Mason, currently a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. Ultimately, the authority of this inquiry must rest squarely on her report on human rights abuses involved in population programs. And she has failed miserably. Her contribution is not rational, but obtuse and contradictory, and it has not been conducted on the basis of the best available evidence. Members and Senators committed to upholding the universality and inviolability of human rights will find this report a severe disappointment.

HAVE THE TERMS OF REFERENCE BEEN ANSWERED?

  Dr Mason was asked by the Government to provide "information that will allow it to assess the relative costs and benefits of population activities in achieving improvements in development indicators vis-a-vis alternative policies" (Preface, i) and to examine the relationship between population and human rights issues, "including officially sanctioned pressures leading to violations of human rights". One would have expected her to survey the literature for documented human rights abuses, at least in countries in which Australia funds population activities. Many of the other reports in the Inquiry supply detailed statistics in their field, but Dr Mason makes not the slightest effort to assess on a country by country basis the types of officially sanctioned pressures, the number of human rights abuses which occur as a result, the reliability of information about these abuses and the willingness of governments to change their policies. Such information is available and in great abundance. There is a growing body of work by Third World feminists analysing the operation of population control programs in developing countries. Dr Mason seems to have overlooked it. Does that constitute a proper review of the literature? Without some effort to quantify human rights abuses, it is impossible to assess the cost of the violation of basic human freedoms.

  Since Dr Mason shuns arguing from facts, she uses theories to exonerate most population programs. But the human rights abuses she was asked to investigate are not just theoretical surmise. We are talking about the maiming of women and men, of destroying their conjugal intimacy, of oppressing and humiliating them. We're talking about physical and psychological violence, bullying tactics, the use of third world women as guinea pigs for the trialing of long-acting provider-controlled contraceptives\abortifacients and the deception in Indonesia where Norplant is promoted as a beauty aid. We're talking about women being denied access to credit and development programs if they refuse contraception, and women being offered food and clothing if they do. And of course, we're talking about the forced abortions and sterilisations so blatantly and commonly carried out in China: the widespread destruction of human life and sex-selection abortions which account for millions of missing female human beings.

  The conclusion of the Inquiry with respect to human rights is that "population programmes need to pay attention to human rights concerns and should have built into them adequate protection against the violation of human rights" (Final report, 30). But what safeguards should this Government implement? How much protection is adequate protection? Which countries should be watched most closely? The Government will not find the answers in Dr Mason's report.

  With inadequately researched data, Dr Mason finds herself unable to assess the relative importance of coercion in the population programs we fund. And it becomes equally impossible for Dr Mason to place any kind of program beyond the pale of human rights. Even in the most draconian of programs, those "that punish couples for having more than a mandated number of children or for failing to adopt birth control" (Final report, 29)—i.e. programs in India and China—she has found "some observers" who "regard this type of incentive as ethical". In fact, a close reading of her report suggests that Dr Mason can find "an observer" somewhere to come up with a theory to excuse almost any population related curbs on human rights.

  In its Executive Summary, the Inquiry describes the preferred parameters of population programs: "Many agree that well-designed voluntary family planning programmes enhance couples' individual rights by increasing their freedom of choice" (Executive summary, 4). But bland assurances do not satisfy the Inquiry's terms of reference. What watertight guarantees can be given that a family planning program will be well-designed and voluntary? What watertight guarantees can be given that such a program will have informed consent as a cornerstone? What reply should we give feminists who argue that "There is enough documented evidence from different parts of the world to show that whenever targets are set to be achieved by family planning programmes, they have been achieved only through coercion and false promises"?(3). The Government will not find the answers in Dr Mason's report.

HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE BALANCE

  What it will find is an unbalanced defence of population programs by an academic who, by her own admission, has no credentials for writing on human rights. Dr Mason does not appear to be a philosopher or a political scientist or even a lawyer. The style of her argumentation is thoroughly sociological: she has scanned recent journals of family planning for guidance through the thickets of human rights; she has presented the conflicting views of some of her colleagues and has sifted them for a consensus; she has searched for an unobjectionable solution without seriously assessing the relative merits of their arguments. Dr Mason does not reason: she conducts surveys. She does not examine the principles of her arguments. The modern human rights debate is at least 300 years old; she cites a definition from a two-year old American dictionary. As moral philosophy, Dr Mason's contribution is incompetent.

  The shallowness of Dr Mason's analysis is clearly demonstrated by her use of the old chestnut of cultural relativism in order to mitigate abuses of human rights overseas which could never be tolerated in Australia.

Western democracies tend to give precedence to individual liberties, but many Eastern bloc and Third World countries regard the obligation to provide basic social entitlements as being far more fundamental, and where these two sets of values conflict, may choose to abridge individual liberties in order to insure the provision of social entitlements (4).

  This is the excuse given by every totalitarian state for snuffing out individual freedoms, and it is no more acceptable to the citizens of China or Iraq than it is to the citizens of Australia or France. The Russian delegate to last year's World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna had sobering words on this issue. He warned against "`special' concepts of

human rights for Asia of the `South', as well as against [a] selective approach to some categories of rights as compared to others. . . [O]ur own experience proves that in countries where freedom is traded for bread, both are deprived eventually"(4).

  It is undeniable that deeply-rooted and significant cultural differences exist between the Asian civilisations of the Pacific Rim and a Western nation like Australia. But the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which we have all subscribed, guarantees its 30 articles as "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations" [my italics].

  No nation, without exception, is entitled to ignore fundamental human rights. To infer that totalitarian governments can breach the human rights set out in the Universal Declaration effectively means that their citizens have been disinherited by the human family. Article 2 says:

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

  The bitter lesson of the Russians has not been learned by totalitarian regimes. Some of the governments whose population programs we support and finance are all too willing to trade freedom for "special needs" as defined by them. Those who condone violation of human rights on the grounds of cultural relativism should acknowledge that the world cultural in this context as a delineated as expressed by totalitarian governments.

  Australia cannot accept this demeaning doctrine. The world community is not divided into morally superior cultures which understand and accept sophisticated concepts like human rights, and morally inferior cultures which cannot. With the formation of the United Nations and the proclamation of the Universal Declaration the world repudiated this moral apartheid once and for all. Whatever our differences in language, history, law and religion, we and our Asian neighbours are all committed to providing our citizens with a social order which secures the "universal and effective recognition and observance"

of human rights. In a decade in which this Government has committed itself to forging closer economic and cultural bonds with the nations of Asia, it seems bizarre to argue that our neighbours are incapable of recognising a human being's most cherished freedoms or of observing their international obligations. Dr Mason's arguments in this vein must be rejected.

THE U.N. DEFINITION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

  There is a very good reason why Dr Mason slips so readily into cultural relativism when discussing human rights. It appears that she is not confident about their existence. Indeed, she attempts to prove that there are no human rights abuses in population control programs, by "proving" that there are no universal and inviolable human rights. Was Senator Evans aware of this when she was engaged at considerable expense by taxpayers to work on an inquiry which, if not repudiated, could shape policies affecting the lives of millions of people in Third World countries? So much for the assurances given to the Senate on March 24 by Senator Evans that "Ms Oppenheim" [sic] was an internationally regarded expert on the link between population programs and coercion(5). She had never written on the subject. Senator Evans was either seriously ill-advised or has misled the Senate.

  One clear principle of Australia's foreign policy is that we consider the exercise of basic human rights by individuals in a society as an essential part of its well-being. Senator Evans has shown himself committed to a high profile for Australia in promoting international recognition of human rights, an approach to international relations with solid backing in Federal Parliament and the community. Recent statements and actions by Senator Evans however, have led some commentators to question the strength of his commitment.

  What are internationally recognised human rights? United Nations conventions which document internationally recognised human rights use as their pole star the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In its 30 articles are enshrined the most precious personal freedoms and the most fundamental of government responsibilities. These rights are universal and inalienable. They have been ratified by nearly every government on the face of the globe. By one estimate(6), this means that 97% of the world's population accepts their authority.

  Dr Mason seems to be part of the three per cent who don't. "[T]here are a number of problems in using these documents as a basis for make [sic] ethical judgements about particular government programs, policies, or actions," she argues.(3).

  I am amazed that the Government should recruit an "expert" on human rights who, by her own admission, does not know what universal and inalienable human rights are, does not believe they exist, and consistently shrinks from making a categorical condemnation, on human rights grounds, of almost any government population related activity, no matter how heinous. Let me examine some of her fundamental arguments, arguments which can never be accepted by a government which was an original signatory to the Charter of the United Nations.

  First of all, she complains, "there are so many rights spelled out in various UN conventions and declarations that it is often difficult to determine which rights take precedence in a particular situation" (3). It is difficult, she concludes, to say whether an individual right should prevail over the government's duty to provide social services. But this makes a mockery of the crystal-clear proclamation by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of "the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family". It is ridiculous to give equal weight to the right "to have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes"(7) and to Article 5 of the original Declaration, that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The foundation of social rights is personal rights. Without persons as subjects of rights, there is no society. Inherent in the Declaration is a hierarchy of rights, with the human person first and foremost. Next is the family, which is defined by the UN in document after document as "the natural and fundamental group unit of society [which] is entitled to protection by society and the State"(8). Every lawyer is familiar with this gradation in the importance of individual freedoms, even if social scientists like Dr Mason find it bewildering.

  It is crucial to note that the Declaration says that rights are inherent and inalienable. Human rights do not exist by virtue of a grant from the United Nations or any other government body. They pre-exist the UN Charter and the Declaration. Each and every human being possesses these rights by virtue of his or her membership in the human family. And Australia has bound itself through this Declaration "to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance".

  Does Dr Mason support the Declaration's view of human rights as inherent and inalienable? It seems not. The quote "interests of collectivity versus those of individual" are cited to justify her uncertain judgement. She suggests intercountry disagreements about fundamental human values. "This again means that it may be impossible to decide in any `objective' manner whether a given policy, program, or action taken by a foreign government violates human rights," (6) she insists. This is only one amongst many sentences in her contribution which reveal a confused ambivalence towards the very notion of human rights which are universal and inalienable. Her ideas strike at the very heart of the justice, fairness, compassion and equality that Australia represents on the international stage. She, of course, is entitled to hold an interpretation of human rights which is inconsistent with Australia's commitments and foreign policy, but it is hardly consistent for the Australian Government to pay her for doing so.

  It was the world's horror at "barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind" which was the well-spring of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These acts—the Holocaust amongst them—were defended by Nazi officials in the Nuremberg Trials as legal and arising from what they might have called a mere disagreement about fundamental human values (5). The world has repudiated this terrible logic and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has affirmed once and for all that there is an objective basis to determine whether another government's actions are right or wrong.

THE MORAL PHILOSOPHY OF DR MASON

  It is not surprising, therefore, that Dr Mason believes that "Because of its moral character, the question of whether population programs harm or enhance human rights cannot be answered objectively" [my italics] (1). With this phrase in the very first paragraph of her contribution, Dr Mason disqualifies herself from contributing to the human rights debate in Australia. Certainly, each situation must be judged on its merits, but precisely because of "its moral character" an objective assessment can be made. There are scores of philosophers who question the existence and objectivity of human rights, but none of them are employed by the Australian Government. If it means anything at all, Australia's moral and legal commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights means that this Government believes that questions of human rights can be answered objectively.

  Dr Mason insinuates that those who oppose anti-natal population programs dissemble their real philosophy (12). I think that it is time to drag the real philosophy lurking in the dark corners of her paper into daylight and fresh air. The objectivity of Dr Mason's review of the literature and assessment of expert knowledge is quite spurious. Authoritative voices opposed to population control programs have been marginalised and the ethical conjectures of puzzled demographers given magisterial status. From her definitions of the issues to her selection of facts, every aspect of her contribution is coloured by her own support for these programs. She is presently First Vice President of the Population Association of America and she is involved in a project on women and development funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, an institution with a long history of support for population programs.

  Dr Mason's philosophy is that the ends justify the means. She argues throughout her paper that:

program features such as community pressures or economic disincentives for childbearing that in some settings would be considered morally unacceptable may in other settings be freely endorsed as appropriate methods for insuring the long-run well-being of the society and its individual members. (25)

  Apart from unabashed cultural relativism, this sentence implies that personal freedoms can be sacrificed to a government's assessment of the common good, as distinct from the protection of the fundamental human rights of others. Are there no human rights which are too precious to be sacrificed on the altar of per capita GNP? The right to privacy?: "it becomes difficult to argue that any form of state intrusion on fertility decisions is necessarily an invasion of privacy that violates human rights," she says (18). The right to found a family?: "Whether there is a sound philosophical basis for the existence of a universal right to bear children in numbers determined by the parents is also a matter of controversy," she says (7).

  Dr Mason seeks some support for her position by arguing that individual freedoms listed in the first part of the Universal Declaration can be sacrificed for the sake of providing the social rights in the second half, such as the right to health and well-being, paid holidays, disability benefits and artistic copyright. "[I]f the need to abridge liberties in order to insure social entitlements is indeed genuine, then this choice is ethnically [sic] defensible because both types of rights are given equal weight in human rights conventions" (4).

  This line of reasoning is mere sophistry. In the first place, the Universal Declaration endorses my individual and personal right to health and well-being—it does not endorse a government's "right" to regulate my diet and force me to exercise. Human rights are derived from the person and are not created by governments. If the history of our century has taught us anything, it has taught us that governments seek constantly to usurp individual rights under the banner of the common good. The chilling description of his government's policy by the People's Republic of China delegate to the World Conference on Human Rights illustrates this:

There are no absolute individual rights and freedom, except those prescribed by and within the framework of law. Nobody shall place his own rights and interests above those of the state and society. . . (9)

  When there are no restrictions on the government's power to frame laws, the Chinese policy of compulsory "IUD insertion for women with one child, sterilisation for couple with two children, and abortion for women pregnant outside the plan"(10) becomes, by definition, not coercion, but the fulfilment of a woman's individual human rights!

  Individual freedoms must sometimes be qualified for the sake of the common good, but they can never be suppressed. The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specifically guarantees that even in cases of officially proclaimed public emergencies, no derogation of fundamental and inherent rights is allowed. It specifies the right to life, to freedom from torture, to freedom from slavery, to legal representation and to freedom of conscience and religion(11). Even in Australia, we must be constantly vigilant to ensure that governments and statutory bodies respect human rights. How much truer is this in countries where legal safeguards are weaker? Population control programs are often run by corrupt bureaucrats who are only too ready to blame their own economic and administrative incompetence on women's fertility and to enforce demographic targets with ruthless physical and psychological brutality. This is not overheated rhetoric, but thoroughly documented fact.

  Abridgment of individual freedoms in any country is so serious a step that it can only be done for the weightiest of reasons. Even Dr Mason concedes that the only excuse for undermining "individual reproductive needs" is that "unrestrained population growth indeed threatens collective well-being" (24). Even Dr Mason acknowledges that "governments may rationalize unpopular restraints on individual liberty in terms of supposed population-based problems or crises that others may regard as non-existent or considerably less urgent than the government depicts them to be" (4).

  Demographic problems are always a challenge. But when even those appointed by the Government scratch their heads and ask for more rigorous proofs—not of the solutions, but of the very existence of a "problem"—how can anyone possibly justify the abridgment of human rights? How can a non-existent cost be weighed against the incalculable benefit of human rights?

  Dr Mason invokes the example of the Singaporian Government's strict policies to limit family size in the 1970s. "[T]he population of Singapore . . . agreed with the government," (15) reports Dr Mason. In Singapore in the 70s, it was very difficult not to agree with the government. Do all the Singaporean couples who sacrificed their dreams for a family size beyond State dictates still agree with the government? Their government has made an about face and is now pleading with a younger generation to have more children. Is "Sorry about that; our economists made an honest mistake" an adequate apology to their parents? Will future Australian Prime Ministers have to mumble apologies to their hosts in Bangladesh or Papua New Guinea or the Philippines or Indonesia a generation hence? How can thoroughly-documented facts of government coercion and human rights abuses be justified by bureaucrats' hypotheses of possible economic development?

  Another pillar of Dr Mason's ethics is her willingness to regard persons as ends. Should incentives be used to encourage the poor to participate in population control programs? Her comment is brutal.

While some observers regard state manipulation of the private costs of children in this manner as morally repugnant, others regard it as an appropriate policy tool no less ethical than farm subsidies designed to discourage the over-production of crops . . . Thus, whether population programs should avoid the use of incentives on human rights grounds is a question that cannot be given any simple, abstract answer. (22)

  Do Australians regard their children as crops? Do parents in Third World countries? It is a pillar of the Universal Declaration that men and women must never be used as ends, as mere instruments of government policy. Dr Mason, however, seems quite willing to accept almost any government interference in private lives as long as a Third World bureaucrat asserts that national welfare is threatened. Nothing could be more inconsistent with Australia's view of human rights.

REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM

  Dr Mason seeks to be seen as defending the interests of women, although she does grant that the population control programs she defends are often violently opposed by many feminists and women's groups. Dr Mason asserts that there is a great "unmet need for family planning" (16) amongst Third World women. She fail to cite work which questions the concept of "unmet demand" which is the current catchcry of the population control lobby. She ignores the complicity of multinational pharmaceutical companies in suppressing information which would help women to exercise true informed consent. Third World women themselves say they have a lot of other unmet needs but these are often ignored because of the over-emphasis on contraception. Last year a Bangladeshi women's activist, Farida Akhter, pleaded with our Prime Minister: "If you're giving any money at all, don't give it to the population controllers. We don't have money for health programs. Please, divert it to health programs."

  This request strikes at the very heart of Dr Mason's contribution. Why do we need population control programs at all? This is the question that Dr Mason has been too obtuse either to ask or to answer. But this is a question asked by many writers who are never cited in her survey of the literature. One of the most eloquent of these is the distinguished economist Lord Peter Bauer. It is worthwhile quoting him at length.

. . . for many decades now, cheap Western-style consumer goods such as hardware, cosmetics, soft drinks, watches and cameras have been conspicuously traded in South East and South Asia, the Middle East, West Africa and Latin America. More recently, transistor radios and pocket calculators have become common in LDCs [less developed countries]. Had there been a large demand for modern contraceptives, these would have been equally conspicuous as trade goods. In fact, condoms, inter-uterine devices and the contraceptive pill so far have spread only slowly in much of the Third World, even when heavily subsidised. Indeed, those contraceptives are often absent where sophisticated articles of feminine hygiene are on sale.

All this suggests that the demand for modern contraceptives has been small, either because people do not want to restrict their families or they prefer other ways of doing so. It follows that in the Third World the children who are born are generally wanted by their parents(12).

  Couples have an inalienable right to found a family and to decide upon the spacing of births and the number of children. They deserve access to full and complete information which will enable them to make informed decisions on what is best for them and their families. And in view of the relatively optimistic view of population growth taken by other contributors to the Inquiry, why should we believe that government planners or international bureaucrats will make better decisions?

  Dr Mason's appeals to women's rights and her remarks on "reproductive slavery" have been widely reported. But her views on women who want to have children have hardly seen the light of day and it's time to drag them out of the cupboard. She suggests that:

[E]ven if a right to bear children is said to exist, this right does not automatically allow for unconstrained childbearing and hence provides, at best, an ambiguous basis on which to judge concrete population policies and programs. (7)

  Let's call a spade a spade. This statement is simply extraordinary. It basically says parents can't be trusted.

  The Government asked this Inquiry to investigate whether programs designed to limit the size of families in Third World countries could be considered ethical. Dr Mason stands this on its head. She sympathises with writers who query whether the choice of childbearing can be considered ethical. Is this within the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Is the Minister prepared to agree with Dr Mason's suggestion that people may not have a right to have the children they want?

CONCLUSION

  Members and Senators committed to human rights are entitled to be exasperated and angered by this Inquiry's prejudiced and incompetent treatment of human rights. I feel that I have a right to be. Did not the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade tell us:

If it is a poor quality job of work that has been done in which prejudices are apparent or insufficient attention to the subject matter is apparent or which is in some other ways colourable, Senator Harradine will be fully justified in standing up in this place and savaging it . . . (13)

  Many of us will recall words from that deeply moving film Schindler's List, "Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire." This is my vision for Australia; this is the vision of most Australians. It would be a tragedy if this Government were to use Dr. Mason's whitewash of population control programs as a blueprint for contraceptive imperialism in the Third World. The Minister must immediately repudiate this report and refuse to use it as a guideline for Australian policy on population programs. What is needed is an authoritative independent examination of the undermining of human rights involved in population activities supported by AIDAB.

(1)  Weekly Senate Hansard, 27 Oct. 1993: 2604

(2)  Weekly Senate Hansard, 27 Oct. 1993: 2604

(3)  Personal communication from Sumati Nair, April 13, 1994. Amsterdam-based women's health activist, Ms Nair is the author of Imperialism and the Control of women's Fertility: New hormonal contraceptives, Population control and the World Health Organisation.

(4)  A. V. Kozyrev, address to the World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 15 June 1993, typescript copy.

(5)  Current Weekly Hansard, 24 March 1994: 2214.

(6)  John I Fleming, "The Public Policy Implications of Human Rights for Bioethics," 1993, typescript, 12.

(7)  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 18 December 1979, Article 14, 2(g).

(8)  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16 (1). See also the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Art. 10 (1); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 23 (1); Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble.

(9)  Liu Huagiu, address to the World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 15 June 1993, typescript.

(10)  Steven W. Mosher, A Mother's Ordeal: One Woman's Fight Against China's One-Child Policy (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1993): 333.

(11)  International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 4 (1) and (2).

(12)  Peter Bauer, Population Growth: Curse or Blessing? ([Sydney]: Centre for Independent Studies, 1990): 5.

(13)  Current Senate Hansard, 24 March 1994: 2214

Sitting suspended from 1.57 p.m. to 2.00 p.m.