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Thursday, 15 December 1983
Page: 3926

Senator HARRADINE(6.43) —I will confine my remarks to the message from the House of Representatives in respect of the disagreement the House has with our amendment relating to finance. I want to say very simply that the attempt of the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) to use public moneys to pay for an unprecedented glossy media campaign in favour of only the Yes side of the referendum was, and he admits it, a calculated attempt to sabotage-

Senator Gareth Evans —Do you condemn Robin Gray for spending taxpayers' money in Tasmania?

Senator HARRADINE —Robin Gray does not consult me.

Senator Gareth Evans —Do you condemn him in this chamber?

Senator HARRADINE —I would say that his premature statement was an embarrassment to the No campaign at that stage.

Senator Gareth Evans —Do you condemn him for that?

Senator HARRADINE —No, I do not. I do not deny the right of a State to determine what attitude it might take in respect of the matter.

Senator Gareth Evans —That is not a double standard?

Senator HARRADINE —No, because it is a matter of constitutional powers and of the powers of the Commonwealth versus the powers of the State. I suggest to the Attorney that if Mr Burke in Western Australia felt strongly enough about the Yes campaign he might well have considered campaigning with the support of the Western Australian State Parliament. I am talking about the State Parliament. As far as Tasmania is concerned, I believe Mr Gray ought to get the approval of the State Parliament. I believe it is not a matter for the Government to determine. We are not talking, are we, about a referendum-led recovery for Western Australia? What we are talking about is an amendment which we made but which the House of Representatives refused to accept. All of this has been brought about by the Attorney-General's attempt to use public moneys to pay for the unprecedented glossy media campaign for the Yes case. That was a calculated sabotage-

Senator Gareth Evans —To get constitutional reform, which has been agreed upon for 10 years. Come on! Be honest about it.

Senator HARRADINE —I am trying to stick to the point. That was a calculated sabotage of the careful balance given to the Yes and No cases under Commonwealth legislation dealing with referendums. On 22 November, the very day the Attorney- General made his statement, I branded it as a mockery of the fairness provisions in the legislation and suggested that the Parliament hold up the Representation Bill 1983, the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 1983 or the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Amendment Bill to ensure that that principle of equality and fairness were upheld. Senator Evans's plan has now exploded and hopefully has sabotaged for the next 10 years any prospects of having those referendums adopted by the people.