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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 46

Senator HILL (Leader of the Government in the Senate) (3:33 PM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate record its deep regret at the death, on 20 November 2004, of Janine Haines, AM, former senator for South Australia and Leader of the Australian Democrats, and places on record its appreciation of her long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to her family in their bereavement.

Janine Haines was born on 8 May 1945 in Tanunda, South Australia to Francis Carter, a policeman, and his wife Beryl, a school teacher. She was educated at Brighton High School in South Australia and attended the University of Adelaide, where she received a Bachelor of Arts, and the Adelaide Teachers College, where she received a Diploma of Teaching. She went on to become a teacher of English and maths at high school level before entering politics.

In 1975 Janine Haines stood for the Senate on the Liberal Movement ticket. She was not elected at that time but she was later chosen by the then Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan, to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate following the retirement of Steele Hall in 1977. Janine Haines became the first senator—and also the first woman senator, obviously—for the Australian Democrats. Her first term as a senator expired on 30 June 1978. She was then elected to the Senate in 1980, taking up the position on 1 July 1981. She was re-elected in 1983 and 1987. Janine Haines was appointed the Leader of the Australian Democrats in March 1986 on the retirement of Don Chipp, becoming the first woman to lead a political party in Australia. She held the position until March 1990, when she resigned from the Senate to contest the House of Representatives seat of Kingston and she was defeated by the incumbent member, Gordon Bilney.

Throughout her life in parliament Ms Haines was always an advocate for gender equality and women's issues but she also maintained a strong interest in a wide range of issues affecting the Australian community. In her first speech to the parliament she said that it was not her intention to restrict herself to so-called `women's issues' or to put only the woman's point of view, but that she intended to concern herself with as many issues as possible affecting the people of Australia and, in particular, South Australians. She was the Australian Democrat spokeswoman for what she called the `social justice' portfolios—health, social security, housing and construction, community services and women's affairs—as well as their spokeswoman for Finance, Attorney-General's, Special Minister of State and Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio issues.

During her time as a senator and party leader she was a key figure in the Senate's consideration of a wide range of legislation. Among her political achievements she listed negotiating changes to sex discrimination legislation and to the Hawke government's Medicare system, her determined public opposition to the Australia Card and her stewardship of the Australian Democrats through one of their most successful periods. During her time as a senator Ms Haines was a member of a number of Senate committees, including the Senate Committee on Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes, the creation of which she strongly supported; the Standing Committee on Social Welfare; the Joint Committee on the National Crime Authority; and the Joint Select Committee on an Australia Card. She travelled overseas to represent the Australian parliament with parliamentary delegations to Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and New Zealand.

After leaving politics Ms Haines remained active in the community. She wrote a book, Suffrage to sufferance: a hundred years of women in politics; she served on the council of the University of Adelaide; she was the President of the Australian Privacy Charter Council; she travelled the country speaking on a range of issues; and she engaged in radio, newspaper and consultancy work. In the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Australian parliament and to politics, particularly as a parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats, and to the community.

On a personal note, as I was with Janine Haines in the Senate for some nine years—and while I did not know her closely I guess in this environment you get to know your colleagues reasonably well—I remember her as others have described: feisty, confident, always clear in her objectives, determined, honourable, reliable and very honest to her personal beliefs and priorities. Certainly she was a significant contributor to the case for third parties within this chamber. Following on from former Senator Chipp and the larger-than-life image that he portrayed was quite a challenge in itself. There is no doubt that she made a significant contribution to Australian political and public life. I regret that I was unable to attend her funeral, as I was attending another funeral—it seems to unfortunately be the season—but I was pleased that Senator Minchin, my deputy leader here, was able to represent the coalition.

I also wanted to make mention of the fact that Senator Vanstone and Senator Patterson, two female ministers, wanted to make a contribution to this debate but were unable to do so because of other duties. They nevertheless wanted to each be personally associated with these words and to express their sympathy to her family. On behalf of the government as a whole, I extend to Janine's husband, Ian, her daughters, Bronwyn and Melanie, and to her other family members and friends our most sincere sympathy in their bereavement.