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Thursday, 1 May 1980
Page: 2059

Senator BONNER (Queensland) -I wish to indicate my support, first and foremost, for the Simon amendment. I support also the amendments which have been moved by Senator Lewis and Senator Tate. I have listened to this debate and to what honourable senators have had to say, particularly the lawyers. I think the whole matter has been somewhat confused. An honourable senator on the other side of the chamber said that the lawyers were dragging a red herring in front of the Committee and then it was changed to a blue herring. The lawyers are saying that if this amendment is carried the Human Rights Commission will be totally snowed under by doing nothing else but looking into this area. I do not agree with that view at all because the Commission has a discretion as to whether a case can be looked at, will be looked at or should be looked at. This is spelt out quite clearly in the Human Rights Commission Bill. I also want to make it quite clear today that I have not been blackmailed by the Right to Life Association or any other organisation.

Senator Lewis - You mean whitemailed

Senator BONNER -As a matter of fact, I think 'blackmail' is an offensive word to be using because it is racist. Being the only black male in this chamber, I take strong exception to the word blackmail' being used. Perhaps I should be saying that I have not been whitemailed by any of these organisations. On top of that, I think the behaviour of many honourable senators who have spoken in this chamber and who have made so many harsh comments about the Right to Life Association is a shocking indictment of them. Members of that organisation have surely lobbied members of Parliament. Can Senator Missen or Senator Evans tell me that they have never been lobbied in this place or pressured by outside groups to do something in this chamber? Of course they have been. It is ridiculous to suggest that they have not been lobbied. Of course, they have been lobbied and they will continue to be lobbied. I hope they are lobbied strongly and fruitfully on this issue we are debating todaythe right to life.

All we are asking this Commission to do is to look into these areas. We are not asking it to do anything but that in this Human Rights Commission Bill. I have said before and I say again that this Bill is a toothless tiger in many ways. As my colleague, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Chaney, has said, at least this Bill gives the opportunity for these matters to be brought to light and to be brought into this chamber for debate. Surely that is not asking too much. We are talking about a life. Whether born or unborn, it is still a life. I believe it has rights. We are debating a human rights Bill. Honourable senators are expressing support for a human rights Bill and yet they are denying investigation into the rights of a life to be born and to enjoy what this Commission is supposed to be doing, namely protecting human rights. It will not have that right because, in the first instance, it will be put to death before it sees the light of day. All we are asking is that this Commission looks into those areas.

I support the amendments. Without using all the fine words that have been used today by Senator Evans, Senator Missen, Senator Puplick and other honourable senators- I am a simple man- I say that I believe in the right to life. If this Commission can in any way help to preserve and protect that most defenceless life at all, I am all for it and I will support it. I will support it because I believe that what we are trying to do here is right. I reiterate that I support first and foremost the amendment moved by Mr Simon in the other place. Now that further amendments have been moved by Senator Lewis and Senator Tate, I will be supporting those as well.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Mulvihill - I call Senator Douglas McClelland.

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