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New challenge for ID card opponents

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"The coalition of concerned Australians who helped defeat the Hawke government' 8 ID card must now rally to protect the Senate from the threat posed by the September 3 referendumĀ»," the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Fred Chaney said today.

"Many of those hundreds of thousands of people were also active in stirring massive public opposition to the Bill of Rights which was withdrawn by the government when it realised the extent of the protest", he said.

"But in both cases, the key to their defeat was the ability of an independent Senate to debate at length legislation which the Hawke government had forced through the House of Representatives before people had the opportunity to understand what it really meant.

"That independence is now in grave danger because of referendum Question One.

"The Catholic Bishop* have given a strong lead by alerting Australians to the implications of the so-called freedom of religion proposal in Question Four.

"I call on all Australians, particularly those who were alarmed by the XD card and the Bill of Rights to renew their efforts and oppose this attempted nobbling of the Senate which, if it succeeds, would make it so much easier for the Hawke government to impose both these highly undesirable

changes to our way of life."

Senator Chaney was addressing a meeting in Perth on the referendumĀ·.

"The Senate was created to give some protection to the smaller States against the domination of the House of Representatives, because of their bigger populations, by New South Wales and Victoria," he said.

"Without that protection Australians would most likely never have agreed to come together in a federation.

"The proposition in Question One represents the greatest threat to Senate independence since federation.

"It is a sneak attack. The government is trying to trick people into voting to reduce Senate powers by tying its proposal to the generally-popular concept of a four year term for the House of Representatives.


"But the real intent is the plan to cut Senators terms from six to four years and to do away with the present

constraints on calling elections for both Houses of the Parliament - whereby the Senate has to twice reject legislation within a certain time to establish the grounds for a double dissolution - so that the Prime Minister can automatically take both the Senate and the Representatives to an election whenever he judges the political climate is right.

"If this change is agreed to, the long debates which exposed the real meaning of the ID card and the Bill of Rights and allowed time for public protest to develop could be chopped off by a Prime Minister determined to force an election.

"Australians have just spent a billion dollars building a new home for their federal Parliament.

"If this proposal is passed, the only part of that parliament which can effectively protect the rights of citizens against government excesses will be stripped of its powers to act as an independent chamber of review."

Perth 16 August 1988 Contacti Keith Kessell (09) 321 8719