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Thursday, 13 May 1993
Page: 603

Senator HARRADINE (6.13 p.m.) —I think it is important that this matter comes before the chamber today so that we may place on record the character of upper houses, houses of review, and particularly the character of this chamber. I believe this chamber has a very significant role in protecting the rights of the States and all individuals. It is not as though we are protecting the rights of the States over their people. We are protecting the rights of the people of the States.

Senator Kernot —I wish that were true; it should be true.

Senator HARRADINE —I suppose it ought to be true, and I think it is true when it comes to the question of State grants. I think had there not been a quality of representation from the States in this chamber, this Government—and probably previous governments—would soon have got to per capita funding of the States without recognising the importance of funding and the fact that economies of scale are not there in the smaller States.

  When the debate on the constitutional amendments comes up and the question of the removal of the crown is debated, one has to think ahead a bit. There are implications with regard to mineral royalties that are gained by the States. Queensland and Western Australia get far more mineral royalties than many of the other States, but the royalties come from crown land; they are crown royalties. When the concept of the crown is abolished, where is that land vested? Is it vested in the president of the nation or is it vested in the States? That is a sleeper, I think; I just throw that in. I will not go along with Senator Kernot's amendment if it proposes to withdraw the words `protect the rights of the States'.

Senator Kernot —Your definition is different; I don't mind your definition.

Senator HARRADINE —For the purpose of my foreshadowed amendment, I hope Senator Kernot will understand that that is my definition. I am proposing to omit paragraphs (c) and (d)—

Senator Walters —Why?

Senator HARRADINE —Because I think we can be big enough to leave that out paragraph (d) and to let the Prime Minister state things for himself. After what he stated yesterday, there is some doubt as to whether he personally has a wider agenda for the abolition of the States and the Senate. I am not convinced that he is now on record as saying that.

  As for paragraph (c), why should we belittle ourselves in condemning Mr Goss for his ill-informed campaign to abolish upper houses? After all, we have taken the high ground with paragraph (b) in saying that we regret the failure of the Queensland Premier, Mr Goss, to appreciate the importance of upper houses in restraining executive power. I think that is a nice way of going about it and that really says it all. If we are saying that he is ignorant about the importance of upper houses—

Senator Bolkus —That is not a nice thing to say.

Senator HARRADINE —That is why I suggest that paragraphs (c) and (d) should come out. That is what my foreshadowed amendment is all about. Apart from those two paragraphs, I support the motion strongly.