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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2127

Senator GRIMES (Manager of Government Business)(10.13) —We are debating a motion of disapproval by Senator Harradine for Determination No. 11 of the Remuneration Tribunal Committee of 1985. This determination is largely to do with the travel rights of members of parliament but the objections of Senator Harradine, I believe, are based on the words at page 81 of the determination, which says:

. . .for the purposes of this entitlement `nominee' means a person with whom the senator or member has established a bona fide, stable domestic relationship:

The Remuneration Tribunal's report, I might add, does not use the term `de facto relationship', which is the term used by Senator Harradine.

As I indicated in the brief time I spoke to this last night, I oppose the disapproval moved by Senator Harradine. Senator Harradine, in his speech last night, spoke largely on his objections to the Remuneration Tribunal's report. He said that it reduces the capacity of this House and this Parliament to scrutinise this piece of del- egated legislation. We have heard this argument from Senator Harradine before. The Tribunal has heard it before and rejected it. I would have expected that, if one wanted to carry this to its logical extreme, this would mean, in fact, that the Remuneration Tribunal would have to bring down a determination on each and every item and number each and every item to give each and every senator and member in this place the opportunity to oppose individual items which they may have some objection to. I point out that the report of the Remuneration Tribunal is a report on a package of conditions. The Remuneration Tribunal has reported consistently this year and last year and for many years before, in this form. It has been a satisfactory form in the past. That is the manner in which reports of this kind are brought down in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and everywhere else. I think the fact that Senator Harradine has both introduced legislation at another time and now has moved this motion for disapproval demonstrates he has the capacity to scrutinise this delegated legislation.

Senator Harradine expresses the view that a determination such as this is anti-marriage and anti the family. He is entitled to that view. I know he holds that view very strongly because I have heard him speak on the matter many times. We have heard other honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives speak on that matter. We have seen the media in this country have a field day in regard to this determination. It is not a view that I happen to share. The determination uses the words-I point out again advisedly:

`nominee' means a person with whom the senator or member has established a bona fide, stable domestic relationship.

Unfortunately, I think Senator Harradine and other members of parliament have in the past made emotive remarks to the effect that members of parliament will take their floosies overseas on trips, et cetera. I do not believe that is a rational and sensible way to debate an issue such as this in this place. I merely make the point-this is a personal view-that there are people in this community who have bona fide stable domestic relationships or, if we want to use Senator Harradine's term-who have de facto relationships for a variety of reasons.

One reason people may have such relationships may be from personal convictions. Those convictions clearly are not Senator Harradine's and clearly are not those of some other people in the community. However, they may be deeply and firmly held personal convictions. I do not think it is up to us as individual senators to denigrate those views in the way they have been denigrated sometimes in this place. Secondly, the simple fact is that people may live in such relationships for reasons of necessity, as they see it. That necessity may arise out of concern for a third party. It may happen, for instance, that two people become divorced. Their remarriage may have a detrimental effect on a third party. It may be out of concern for that third party that such people will live in de facto relationships. I do not think, if this is so, that they necessarily should be condemned for that.

In the past, under previous divorce legislation in this country, many people lived in such relationships. Indeed, I have had correspondence from one former conservative member of this Parliament on this very matter. There were many people who lived in such stable relationships for a very long time because it was impossible for them to do otherwise. One former member of Parliament-not a member of my Party-wrote to me saying I could use his name and circumstances in a debate such as this. I will not do so. I do not think it is necessary for me to do so. For years that person served this country in this Parliament well but lived under the cloud that someone would discover that out of necessity he and his partner were living in what people choose to call a de facto relationship.

I put it to the Senate that a long-standing, stable, loving and supportive relationship-a relationship involving mutual support one for the other over many years-is hardly a relationship which is anti the family. I put it to honourable senators that that is a better example of stable family life in this country than perhaps a relationship which, although coming under the heading of `legal' in Senator Harradine's terms, may be turbulent, destructive and involve physical and mental violence and which, as many of us have seen in our lives outside this Parliament, may involve the destruction of human beings mentally and physically.

In this country there is a recognition, not only in the Remuneration Tribunal's report but in other reports, in legislation and in other spheres, public and private, that people live in such relationships and that they may be stable, bona fide, long-standing and loving relationships. They are recognised. Indeed, we recognise them in Federal legislation. For instance, if this motion is carried, if Senator Harradine's disallowance goes through, a member of parliament living in one of these relationships that worry some people so much would not be able to take that person overseas. However, if that member of parliament lost his seat and became unemployed the couple would immediately be declared to be in a bona fide domestic relationship by the legis- lation of this Parliament and would be cons- idered to be in a de facto relationship, if you like. There is hardly a consistency there, although I accept that there is a difference in that in one case we are providing a benefit and in the other we are taking it away. It is for those reasons that I personally do not see the necessity to change this determination.

Finally, I cannot see any reason in the world at this late stage for throwing out this determination and the whole package of decisions of the Remuneration Tribunal because of Senator Harradine's deeply felt-I accept that-and cons- cientious objection to the words on page 81. If we are to live in a tolerant society, a society which recognises that there are differences between people, this sort of determination will occur. If people object to this sort of determination I think they should object to it on the basis of their convictions and not use the derogatory terms that have been used inside and outside this place, in the media--

Senator Harradine —By whom? Certainly not by me.

Senator GRIMES —I remember an interjection by Senator Harradine about Ministers taking their floosies overseas with them.

Senator Harradine —By whom?

Senator GRIMES —By the honourable senator. Others here can remember it too.

Senator Harradine —When?

Senator GRIMES —The honourable senator lost his temper one day in a debate. I will find the Hansard for him.

Senator Harradine —You find it and show me.

Senator GRIMES —If he did not say it I apologise, but I am absolutely convinced that he did. The suggestion that what the Remuneration Tribunal is doing is striking at family stability and at the recognition and existence of marriage in this country is just not something that I believe has been sustained, certainly not in this debate, although I dare say it will be asserted in Senator Harradine's reply, as it has been in his previous contributions. It is for that reason that I do not believe this Parliament should vote for this disallowance. That is why I and, I believe, my colleagues, will oppose the disallowance.