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Monday, 8 October 1984
Page: 1404

Senator HARRADINE(5.58) —Now I have heard the lot. The Senate has just been treated to a contribution by Senator Mason, who made the rather extraordinary statement that a vote for the Australian Labor Party was somehow a vote against Bob Hawke. I cannot quite follow that.

Senator Mason —You just think about it for a while.

Senator HARRADINE —I have thought about it. If by that you mean--

Senator Mason —I mean that his influence may be a little less in future than it is now.

Senator HARRADINE —Is Senator Mason saying that if there is an overwhelming vote for the Labor Party, it will get control of the Senate?

Senator Mason —No, I am not saying that.

Senator HARRADINE —Most psephologists, the experts on elections, say that the Labor Party cannot control this Parliament. Let me look at the numbers. For example, in New South Wales the Labor Party could get four seats and the Opposition three. If that occurs in South Australia and Western Australia and if the other States break three, three and one, with Mrs Venn coming here, the Labor Party should do its homework and find out what that gives it. I believe that the statement made by the Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, warrants a little more consideration than it has been given so far. One of the most bizarre reasons for an early election is contained in the third page of the Prime Minister's statement:

Secondly, Mr Speaker, by the decisions of both Houses the next Parliament is to be enlarged by 23 members in the House of Representatives; and consequent upon the Constitution by two additional senators from each State. But those additional senators could not take their places until after the new and enlarged House of Representatives had been elected and had met. Accordingly, Mr Speaker, if an election were to be held for half the Senate alone, the additional senators would be, as it were, in a state of limbo for a period of anything up to 16 months after their election.

I was in the House of Representatives when the Prime Minister was making that statement. I am sure that all members of the House of Representatives were absolutely aghast at the prospect of two additional senators being held in limbo for a period of 16 months. That takes the cake. Furthermore, I would have thought that a decision to enlarge the House of Representatives by 23 members, and in order to do so for this Senate to have passed a Bill which enlarged this House, was certainly not the doing of the Liberal Party but the doing of the Government and the National Party. I do not think even the Australian Democrats voted for that.

I believe that a number of the points made by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in this statement are rather specious when they are used as the reason for calling an early election. About the only one that has some validity is the question of cost, which is dealt with on page 3. But that is not an argument for having an election on 1 December this year: It is an argument for having an election prior to 30 June next year. As the Prime Minister said in his statement, that would have to take place by the end of April next year. I would have thought that it could probably take place by the end of the first week in May next year. But it is not an argument for having the election now.

Frankly, there are very real arguments for not having it on 1 December. One of those arguments is that of efficiency of the Parliament. The House of Representatives, according to this document, will try to rise by the 11th, which is Thursday. That will mean that from 11 October, for the rest of this year there will be no further sittings of the House of Representatives. No further legislation will be passed and the Parliament will have no further ability to exercise its audit and control functions over the Executive. This country, whatever colour its government may be, should not have a period in which the Parliament is allowed not to sit for the time that is now envisaged-from 11 October until probably the end of February. It is a period of about five months in which there will be no audit and control over the Executive Government. I think that is a bad thing for parliamentary democracy.

Secondly, it appears to me that the only reason for not having the election in March of next year is the fact that the February unemployment figures will be absolutely devastating.

Senator Mason —Hear, hear!

Senator HARRADINE —They will be absolutely devastating in March of next year as far as youth unemployment is concerned. Senator Mason says 'Hear, hear!'. I disagree entirely with Senator Mason's panacea for youth unemployment.

Senator Mason —You don't even know what it is.

Senator HARRADINE —No. The honourable senator stated it. It is permanent part time work; in other words, sharing the work. I know quite a few people who would like to share their work, but not too many would want to share their pay because their pay is not enough for them to live on with the degree of dignity with which they ought to live. It really is a nonsense to say that that will be the panacea to the problem.

Senator Jack Evans —It is one solution. What are your solutions?

Senator HARRADINE —I was hoping the honourable senator would ask that. I hope that I will get from everyone here a guarantee of support of my one motion of urgency before the Senate rises. I want next week to move a motion of urgency which will go to the unnecessary and unfair burden of youth unemployment in today's society. I hope that will be done on a non-partisan basis. I have prepared a case, I hope thoroughly, in which the figures and the solutions will speak for themselves. I hope I will have the Senate's support for that one day next week.

Senator Crowley —You live in hope.

Senator HARRADINE —Do I not have the honourable senator's support?

Senator Crowley —No, I haven't heard what you have to say for God's sake!

Senator HARRADINE —Let us see how we go.

Senator Jack Evans —You have avoided the issue for now, anyway, Senator. You don 't have any solutions obviously.

Senator HARRADINE —Mr Deputy President, I am sure you would rule me out of order were I now to launch into all of my solutions, which will be revealed as a result of the figures that are available and the interpretation of those figures that will be put forward by me in my motion next week.

This document does not provide for a double dissolution. It appears that the Prime Minister has a constitutional reason or a number of constitutional reasons for calling a double dissolution. He has not chosen to do so. It raises a whole question mark over the attacks that have been made in this chamber, for example by the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Walsh, relating to why the Prime Minister did not call a double dissolution. If there is a constitutional problem between the House of Representatives and the Senate, that is the way in which to solve it. But a double dissolution has not been called. It will be a half Senate election. That being the case I have now to say to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, and to the Senate that I will see some of your smiling faces back here again. I will not be standing at this election as I will not be required to do so.

Nevertheless I believe that the volume and range of work and the issues that have been advanced and projected by me over a period warrant some consideration as to whether assistance is required in this chamber. I am sure that that has been given thorough consideration by persons who are very supportive of me in Tasmania and I believe that those people have come to a correct decision, namely , that another person will be nominated for election to this Senate. I was required, as honourable senators will appreciate, because of the change in the Senate ballot paper, to register my name as a political party for the purpose of getting a box on the top of the ballot paper. I think very few people realise that they will be faced with a changed Senate ballot paper. I do not know whether the Australian Electoral Office will do anything about it.

Senator Robert Ray —I think it is going to spend about $1 1/2m on it.

Senator HARRADINE —Apparently people will be informed about it because when they walk into a polling booth and see the ballot paper it will be totally different from what they had been used to. The ballot paper will consist of two sections: The top section will have boxes with the party listed underneath; the second section will show all of the candidates. People will have an option of either voting No. 1 in a box at the top of the ballot paper or going through all of the candidates underneath in the second part of the paper. I had to consider whether it was a matter which gave unfair advantage to the political parties against independents. I registered my name as a political party primarily for the purpose of getting that box. Honourable senators will appreciate that the requirements were not for me to have 500 paid up or signed up members, because I have far more than that as workers. I did not need formally to create a structure but simply to register the name, and the name had to be of fewer than six words and not obscene.

Senator Button —That is for others to judge, Senator.

Senator HARRADINE —Yes, it is too. Under those circumstances I am very happy to announce what people in Tasmania already know; that is, that a candidate by the name of Mrs Kath Venn, who has vast legislative and political experience, will be running in the election as a member of the Senator Brian Harradine Group. I have no doubt that the people of Tasmania will recognise the important role she will be able to play in this Parliament, which is the House of review. After all , she was the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Tasmanian House of review, the Legislative Council. She as a Tasmanian will be able to represent the State in what is, in effect, the States House. In that sense, I welcome the announcement of this election, but only in that sense.

Senator Walters —You are getting free ABC time.

Senator HARRADINE —I acknowledge the interjection of Senator Walters when she says I am getting my free ABC time now. This is probably the only way I can get it. I must say that the last occasion--

Senator Robert Ray —You must be a friend of Mr Whitehead, surely.

Senator HARRADINE —Yes. I have already asked him what free time I will get, but the last time Senate Estimates Committee A met we had a bit of difficulty over the ABC's decision in respect of homosexuals. I will be interested to know what free time I will receive in respect of the election. I have used the occasion of the announcement of the election by the Prime Minister to refer nationally to the point that Mrs Kath Venn will be standing at the next election. Thus, I welcome the opportunity to have her elected to this chamber.

Debate (on motion by Senator Button) adjourned.