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Thursday, 20 March 1980
Page: 915


Senator HARRADINE (Tasmania) - I merely seek clarification. I did not raise this matter in the first place. I think it was Senator Evans who raised the United Nations Declaration on Rights of the Child. In that declaration there is a specific reference to the appropriate legal rights both before and after birth. I have my pinks in which I state:

Senator Evans,in one of his statements in opposition to the message from the House of Representatives, made the point that the United Nations Declaration on the rights of the Child does not state anywhere that the child does not have the right to life. I put it to the Commitee-

Then Senator Evans interjected:

Before birth. It does not state that it has the right to life before binh.

The point I am making is that if the child has legal rights before birth, it must have the right to life. If the right to life of the human being is taken away, we do not have a human being and then we do not have a legal right. That is the position in a nutshell.

On the point that Senator Puplick made, let me just say this: I think that the Government would be best advised to give support, both financial and positive, to the family. If it did that, many of the problems which have emerged would not emerge. But the main reason I rose was to clarify my position in respect of the amendment. If my amendment is defeated, I propose to vote for the message from the House of Representatives because I am concerned- as we are debating this matter in the Committee of the whole I would like all honourable senators to bear with me on this-that the message from the House of Representatives in relation to physically and mentally handicapped people could very well go down the drain and, indeed, would go down the drain if my amendment is defeated and if the amendment from the House of Representatives is defeated.


Senator Evans - They are covered anyway by the Bill, and you know it.


Senator HARRADINE - Senator Evanssays they are covered. The Attorney-General (Senator Durack) indicated in his speech today that strictly speaking this part of the amendment is unnecessary. But he went on to state:

Article 2(1) requires that the rights recognised in the Covenant are to be respected and applied 'without distinction of any kind'. Distinctions based on physical or mental handicap would accordingly appear to be proscribed without need for the amendment.

But the Attorney continued:

However, the amendment would certainly confirm the position of the physically and mentally handicapped as a group against which there must be no discrimination, and express to the Commission in binding form the Parliament 's particular concern with those unfortunate people.

I believe that we have reached the stage where we must consider seriously whether we will throw out my amendment, and more particularly whether we will throw out the message of the House of Representatives, and with it the specific recognition of those people. Indeed, taking that a step further, will we throw out the specific recognition of the people who are totally unprotected and who do not have a voice for themselves, namely, the unborn children?







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