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Friday, 31 May 1996
Page: 1575

Senator McKIERNAN(4.00 p.m.) —It is not my usual practice to speak on the adjournment on the last day of the sitting fortnight; but I have to take this opportunity, because I will not be here in the next sitting fortnight. Senator Panizza can relax; I am not going to take up the offer he made to me earlier this afternoon to go to the South Seas and use his American Express credit card. I am going to Paris, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea on behalf of the parliament, so I will not be here.

I had intended to speak in the debate on the address-in-rely to the Governor-General's speech, but obviously I will not have the opportunity to do that. So I am going to use the brief time available to me to address some of the remarks I was going to make to that address. By way of introduction to those remarks, I must compliment the Governor-General on the presentation of the speech this year. On this occasion I came into the cham ber to listen to his speech rather than do what I did previously—watch it on television. I must say that it appeared the Governor-General this time had his heart in what he was saying. That is a complete contrast to the now millionaire grazier who presented the Governor-General's speech three years ago.

Senator Panizza —Who was that!

Senator McKIERNAN —That was Bill Hayden, now a grazier—not like you but perhaps like Senator Brownhill—up in Queensland. One thing about the Governor-General's speech, and I am going to be serious for a moment, was that I was surprised he made some comments about the atrocities that had occurred at Port Arthur just a few days previously and that those well-meaning comments were not contained in the official speech. I do not know why that was. Certainly the comments reflected the views of all Australians.

Since then there have been a number of initiatives by the Prime Minister, Mr Howard. My party, my party leader—the honourable member for Brand (Mr Beazley)—and I agree with the initiatives to remove these horrible weapons from our society. Hopefully those bills will get through the parliament with speedy passage with the support of every parliamentarian in this place. I believe that will be for the good of our society.

I would hope, though, that that is only a start. I want to get back to a theme I have raised in this place before: the removal of guns from our society per se; remove them all. Our police could also take the initiative. I know that in the police force in my state, Western Australia, police can make the choice as to whether or not they wear guns. The majority, unfortunately, choose to wear them. I do not think there is a call for that in Australian society or in Western Australian society.

It appals me when I see a policeman in a local shopping centre marking identification marks on children's bicycles and he has a gun strapped to his hip. There is no need for that. It is a macho thing that ought to be done away with. Hopefully, with all these guns removed from our society, the police in turn will also see the need not to have them.

Senator Panizza —As long as you get them off the criminals as well.

Senator McKIERNAN —Yes, get them off the criminals as well. But where does it start, Senator Panizza? If you were a criminal and you know the cops are going to be armed, you would be armed. I am not saying to remove all guns from the police. But I am saying that I do not see the need for a policeman on traffic patrol duty—doing what they are employed to do it would seem; collecting revenue from speeding motorists, rather than doing the more important things—to have a gun strapped to their hip. I really do not see the need for that. Perhaps the various state authorities can use the revenue saved for other purposes.

I now take this opportunity to congratulate the government on their election. This is the first opportunity I have had to congratulate them. It was a victory which nobody can walk away from. I must say that it was more comfortable sitting on the benches opposite than it is sitting over here, although today I got some delight from watching some of the antics in the performances by people on the opposite side when they were trying to responsibly get legislation passed.

I noted that Senator Hill took up my interjection about offering the resignation of Senator Kemp to see whether that could speed up the passage of legislation. He unfortunately did not pick up my interjection about offering Senator Panizza's head as well. I am certain that, had he done that, our Green colleagues would have picked up the offer and we would have moved on and allowed the bills to pass.

The election was a very strong victory for the Liberal Party. It was not a victory for the National Party in Western Australia, but it certainly was a victory for the Liberal Party right throughout Australia. But it was not a complete rout. The coalition government, including the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) and all his ministers, will have to remember the election promises they were elected upon. They cannot run away from them all.

I have a sign in my window which is attracting quite a deal of comment from people wondering why I have John Howard's picture in my office window. Why do I have that there? It is to remind you—

Senator Panizza —You want Stevenage.

Senator McKIERNAN —No, John Howard wants Stevenage—not me. `I want Paul Stevenage', the sign says. It has a picture of John Howard and Paul Stevenage on it. Paul Stevenage was the Liberal Party candidate in the seat of Moore, which was ultimately won by the Independent Paul Filing, a former Liberal Party member. It must not be forgotten—I do not let Paul Filing forget this—that he was elected on Paul Stevenage's preferences. Mr Stevenage is challenging in the High Court Mr Filing's election. I mention this issue because a number of things happened during that campaign—a very bitter campaign not between the main political parties but between the—

Senator Panizza —But they are internal matters.

Senator McKIERNAN —These are not internal matters, Senator Panizza, when in the early hours of the morning some elderly people were threatened by young Liberal thugs. That was not orderly at all. There were a number of other instances like that which should not have been allowed to happen during an election campaign. I certainly would not condone it in my party.

The other very interesting election campaign—I thought I might have had an interjection about it—was that in Kalgoorlie, where a former Labor Party member stood for election. He was contested by another good friend of mine, Ian Taylor, on behalf of the Labor Party and another friend of mine, Cedric Wyatt, a former left wing Labor Party member but the endorsed Liberal Party candidate. Politics is a complex thing.

It was a difficult campaign for people like me who knew all the individuals in it. History now records that Mr Campbell won the contest. I do have a regret, though, about Cedric and how he was used in the campaign. He is a very nice individual. Unfortunately, he made the wrong choice in going over to the Liberal Party. He should have been given more resources and more help in the campaign than he was given. That is unfortunate.

Senator Panizza —Well, a good effort was made.

Senator McKIERNAN —A pretty appalling effort was made, actually. There was very little Liberal Party presence during that whole campaign. I can understand that at times you put a bigger effort in than at other times—

Senator Panizza —Come on! That's wrong. I can give you the names of five senators who helped him.

Senator McKIERNAN —Give me the itineraries of the senators who helped—in fact, table them, Senator Panizza.

The final comment I wish to make in the minute or so I have left to speak is to say a formal farewell to our Senate colleagues whom I will not be involved in parliamentary sittings with again: Senators Beahan, Crichton-Browne, Chamarette, Jones, Burns, Wheelwright, Bell, Spindler and Teague. There are nine in total; I think I have mentioned every one of them. I am not going to comment about each and every one of them other than to say that in the vast majority of cases I have thoroughly enjoyed their company, including when participating in committee hearings. I think I have worked with Senator Spindler a great deal more than I have worked with any of the senators who are retiring.

I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of them all the very best for their future. I ask them to pass on those wishes to their families. Let us hope that their lives become somewhat easier in retirement than perhaps they were when they were serving parliamentarians.