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Monday, 7 February 1994
Page: 429

Senator DENMAN —Will the Minister for Family Services inform the chamber why the government has chosen `Let's look after families' as the campaign theme for the International Year of the Family? What does the campaign aim to achieve for Australian families?

Senator CROWLEY —Yesterday I launched the campaign `Let's look after families' in Sydney. That campaign was deliberately chosen by the government as the International Year of the Family campaign because it underlines our commitment to the well-being of Australian families. One of the most interesting and pleasing things about the launch is that the government has been joined by corporate Australia in supporting the campaign. The sponsors are very pleased to back a message that says that families are valued; that families are our first priority.

  The campaign will involve the television commercial which went to air yesterday for the first time. It will also use radio and print media. The `Let's look after families' campaign will also involve the development of a number of community announcements. There will be television documentaries and newspaper and magazine features. They will all be focusing on Australia's principal asset—Australian families.

  For years the opposition has had a very clear message to Australian families, which is called `Life wasn't meant to be easy'. But this government is entirely different. It is committed to making life easier for families at home, in the workplace and in the communities. These are the values which underpin the `Let's look after families' campaign.

  The campaign recognises the diversity and individuality of families and also the choices that families make. The campaign values those features that are common to all families. I refer to trust, security, safety, warmth—

Senator Hill —Jobs.

Senator CROWLEY —I will come to that, Senator Hill. These are the very features that are disrupted by issues such as domestic violence and abuse of children. They are two of the most important features that we will be looking at this year. If we are talking seriously about safety for families, we address policies to assist them. But most people know that the worst feature of domestic violence and child abuse is that they break down the very core of families.

  We also know that this is a call to the whole community. If we are to have an effective outcome from the International Year of the Family, it is very important that we have extensive consultation with the people of Australia, that they feel involved in that consultation and that their voice be heard and taken seriously. It involves a partnership of government with all sections of the community, including industry, community organisations, unions and the media.

  Some people had hoped—feebly perhaps—that there would be a contribution to the debate by the coalition. By now, these people will be bitterly disappointed. IYF has definitely got off to a very bad start for the opposition. There are among the opposition as many different views about family policy as there are contenders for leadership.

Senator Kemp —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. It is quite clear that the minister is now trying to debate the question. The question was about government policies; it was not about the policies of the opposition. I ask you to bring her into line.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The answer was perfectly consistent with the question that was asked and in order.

Senator Kemp —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I beg to differ. The standing orders are quite clear that the minister cannot debate the question. She is now trying to debate the point and I ask you to bring her to order.

The PRESIDENT —I have already ruled on that.

Senator CROWLEY —It is interesting that the point of order comes just when we begin to highlight the opposition's division on family and division about leadership. What is clear is that the opposition is clearly a dysfunctional family. The opposition does not even know how many places there are around the dining room table. Indeed, it has actually had to put in some extra leaves to get chairs around the table for all those opposite.

  We are very clear that we want to have a discussion with the community. We want to build on what we have done already for families and we cannot do that if there is a large division about policies for families. The government is clear, the community is clear, corporate Australia has joined government and I sincerely hope that the opposition gets its position clear.

Senator Campbell —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. When you look at your ruling of relevance in relation to the point of order raised by Senator Kemp, I ask that you be assisted by the minister by her actually tabling the paper from which she was reading? Not only was she bringing up a spurious and irrelevant point; she was actually reading it. She was not making it up as she was going along; she was actually reading it. I ask her to table the document from which she was reading.

The PRESIDENT —It is not a point of order and it is up to the minister whether she wants to table the document or not.

Senator CROWLEY —No.