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Thursday, 14 June 1984
Page: 3017

Senator HARRADINE(1.57) —The period between a quarter to one and two o'clock on Thursday is supposed to be set aside for non-controversial debate. I do not know what the definition of 'non-controversial debate' is, but today Senator Jack Evans, the Australian Democrats senator from Western Australia, introduced one of the most controversial subjects imaginable; that is, the politicisation of school children. I nearly choked on my carrots. I was not going to come into this chamber and talk about anything but that made me ask Senator Walters whether she would mind cutting short her speech to enable me to respond. As I understand it, Senator Jack Evans was decrying the fact that most schools do not permit the partisan indoctrination of students. He also advocated that school children should join political parties and become politically active . That is a most controversial subject.

I would condemn such attempts to politicise school children. There is enough pressure on students at the moment to study those subjects which will equip them to get a job and contribute to society. They are experiencing enough problems in that regard without being politicised. I am sure that parents throughout Australia would object to the suggestion that officials of political parties should go into schools and indoctrinate students on any number of issues. Senator Jack Evans suggested that the students should become active in the debate against the mining of uranium. If that is what political parties are going to impose upon the education system, then best we look at all the proposals that are being put at present, including proposals relating to human rights issues, peace studies and the like.

Debate interrupted.

The PRESIDENT —Order! It being 2 p.m., pursuant to sessional order, the Senate will now proceed to questions without notice.