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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1113

Senator CRANE (6.03 p.m.) —I am provoked into responding to that unbelievably nonsensical diatribe from Senator Sherry. It is obvious that he has not taken any notice of the debate and how we have arrived at this particular point. As Senator Sherry well knows—I think he can read—

Senator Sherry —I can.

Senator CRANE —Then he would know that from the outset of this debate we were saying that there were structural problems with this committee. We were talking about the way in which this committee could be loaded so that either the representative of the employees or the representative of the employers could be put at a serious disadvantage.

  The government was not prepared to accept our amendments which would allow the parties the right to nominate their own representative to the committee. We now have a situation where, simply because the government could not see what it was doing, any party can be overruled and dictated to totally unreasonably and totally unfairly.

  On this side of the chamber we do not believe that is a fair proposition. To protect those particular individuals, regardless of which side of the fence they sit, we say that the actions of the committee should require consensus.

  To try to relate the Polish situation to the way in which this Senate operates misses the point absolutely and totally. Senator Sherry knows full well that he is elected to this place through a democratic process governed by our constitution and various parliamentary procedures. The people on this committee are not so elected. I do not know what the situation was in Poland but it is totally irrelevant to this debate.

  I am glad that Senator Sherry mentioned Prime Minister Fraser and the fact that his coalition government supported a number of conventions because the point is that his government did not sign them willy-nilly. It did it carefully and selectively. It did not rely on them as the basis for its legislative program.

  The problem with those opposite is that they have run out of ideas. They have to rely on someone in Geneva to provide them with the basis for legislation. At least this time we have got back to making our domestic law without having to resort to these conventions. Reliance on these conventions has been very detrimental to domestic policy and detrimental to establishing what is good for Australia. That does not mean that we are not playing our role internationally. It means that there are people in this parliament who can think for themselves and make a decision on the merits of what is before them.

  Amendments negatived.