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Thursday, 28 October 1993
Page: 2764


Senator KEMP (3.38 p.m.) —After all the hot air, froth and bubble we have heard from Senator Carr, would he believe that the Labor government is trying to sack the federal Human Rights Commissioner, Brian Burdekin? Considering the stories that have been raised in the newspapers in the last couple of weeks, it is an astonishing touch of irony that Senator Carr now jumps up in this chamber and tries to drum up a big issue about the changes to the arrangements of the Equal Opportunity Commission in Victoria announced by Premier Kennett.

  I listened very carefully to what Senator Carr said, and I listened very carefully to what Senator Bolkus said in his answer to Senator Carr's question. I could not hear any complaints that the five new commissioners will be any less independent and I did not hear any attacks on the standing of those people. The case that Senator Carr was trying to drum up and get so excited about was not made out.

  This Labor government will be changing the structure of the federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. We all know that Commissioner Burdekin is on the nose with ministers. I would not take bets on Mr Burdekin being reappointed, and I guess Senator Carr would not either. It always amuses me when Senator Carr gets up to talk about human rights. He is the sort of person who believes that people must join unions. He wants to force people to join unions. He wants to force people to go on strike. He is the great promoter of those particular rights.


Senator Robert Ray —You have amused the little acolyte.


Senator KEMP —It is well known around this chamber that Senator Ray is not Senator Carr's greatest fan. He probably feels about Senator Carr exactly the same way that I feel about Senator Carr. He should really keep quiet. For Senator Carr to be talking about human rights, with his record on industrial disputes and his record as a key adviser to the Kirner government, which has mortgaged the future of all of Victorians, is an irony.


Senator Robert Ray —If your dad didn't own the think tank, maybe you would have had to earn a living.


Senator KEMP —There is a further irony in all this.


Senator Robert Ray —He had to earn a living, not like you.


Senator KEMP —If Senator Ray keeps calm, we might even get to that irony. Senator Carr had to earn a living! He was on the payroll of the Kirner government for nine years and I do not think anyone would describe that as earning a living.

  When Labor Party members attack the Kennett government and the restructuring of the Equal Opportunity Commission in Victoria, one thing it is alleged they are most worried about is that this may breach international standards on human rights. These are the independence boys who constantly assert, like the good republicans they all claim to be, that Australia must be independent, and they have signed us up to the UN like no other government in Australian history. As I pointed out to Senator Gareth Evans, and got him very excited a moment ago, they have overturned the philosophy of the Australia Act. UN human rights committees can now involve themselves in Australian domestic disputes.

  Senator Carr and his colleagues are the very last people to run the independence line for Australia. They have sold this country out time and again. Whatever feelings that a pre-war monarchist may have had for the British empire, it is nothing like the adoration that Senator Carr and his colleagues feel for the United Nations. They have shown their willingness to involve us ceaselessly and unthinkingly in UN human rights conventions, to trade off the independence of this country and to allow Australian disputes to go to UN committees quite contrary to the philosophy of the Australia Act. Senator Carr has no role in standing up in this chamber and speaking about the independence of this nation.