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Thursday, 17 October 1996
Page: 4437

Senator COONEY(4.37 p.m.) —I agree with much of what Senator McKiernan said, but I must confess that what he said at the start of his speech brought to me considerable shock. He was suggesting that somebody aged 60 was not fit to fly an aeroplane. For a person whom I have had great respect for over the years to have this unnatural—I use the word advisedly—prejudice against people just because they are 60 comes as a shock.

Mr Chris Sidoti is saying that age should not by itself be a bar to what a person can do and to his or her place in the work force, in the same way that gender or disability or race should not be a bar. If a person who is 60 is unwell, is not physically or mentally fit to fly, then he or she should not be allowed to fly. If a person who is of a particular sex is not properly qualified to carry on a particular job, then he or she should not be given it. But Mr Sidoti points out here that a specific factor should not by itself be a means of stopping people from doing what they want.

I think Senator McKiernan is being particularly selfish in saying that he is not going to stand for preselection again. He is a senator who has performed wonders in this chamber over many years. I see Senator Crane and Senator Eggleston over there, other great Western Australians. I think they would agree with me when I say that none of them should retire from this place. Senator McKiernan, in particular, should reconsider what he has told us here today. I think he would bring joy to many a heart in Australia if he changed his mind.

Question resolved in the affirmative.