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Wednesday, 24 November 1993
Page: 3561

Senator KEMP (4.05 p.m.) —This issue has captured a degree of public attention. When looking at the colleagues of the Minister for Family Services (Senator Crowley), who were sitting behind her as she blundered on through her answers, I felt that there is great concern not only on this side of the Parliament about what has happened. It would not surprise me that when this debate is finished she will go back to her office and find a message on her desk saying, `Senator Crowley, phone Mr Keating urgently'. Perhaps because of the poor advice she has received from some people, or perhaps because, to use the Ros Kelly defence, she did not read this material carefully enough, she has trampled on the values of most Australians.

Senator Schacht —You trite fool.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Crichton-Browne)—Order! Senator Schacht, you know that is unparliamentary. I would be grateful if you would withdraw it.

Senator Schacht —I withdraw.

Senator KEMP —This is not the first or last time that we will be seeing the Labor Party act in a totally authoritarian and manipulative manner regarding social customs in this country.

  I guess I am pretty typical of many parents on Senator Crowley's side of the chamber. What does she think average Australians think when they read that it is unsatisfactory to provide toys such as trains, tip trucks and bulldozers for boys? Senator Crowley and the Australian Labor Party should get real. Most parents have actually given trains, tip trucks and bulldozers to their sons and have not suffered any embarrassment. Indeed, they have seen their children grow up, hopefully, in good health and with strong values as proud Australians. Equally, I confess—I say this on the public record—that I have given some dolls to my daughter in the past. I would not like any of Senator Crowley's Gestapo coming around, checking out my house and saying, `Senator Kemp is giving trucks to his son and dolls to his daughter'. This is what these silly guidelines say.

  In the 550 guidelines that Senator Crowley has laid down there may well be some 500 which are perfectly satisfactory. I have not had time to read all of them carefully. There are a number there which are just plain damn stupid. They trample on ordinary Australian values. If only she could see the faces of her colleagues behind her when she attempted to explain her position in these matters. I have no query with the statement that staff should consistently provide equal opportunities for boys and girls to participate in all activities. But then the minister goes on to say that the staff recognise that this need not extend to minor areas, such as expecting boys to dress up in female clothes `if this conflicts with family expectations'.

  Most Australian fathers are really happy to have their boys dressed as boys. It is no big deal. I suggest that to put something so profoundly silly and idiotic in the guidelines shows a total lack of balance and understanding of ordinary Australian families. On a number of occasions I have said that the Labor Party is so out of touch with ordinary Australians. This is not the Labor Party of old. This is the Keating Labor party of regency furniture, John Gould prints and trouble with the domestics at the palace. This is the new Labor Party and Senator Crowley has nothing in common with the Labor Party of old. (Time expired)