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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 55

Senator LEES (4:13 PM) —We are all enormously saddened by Janine's passing, particularly, as Senator Boswell has just said, at such a young age. I would like to note that former senators Vicki Bourne and John Woodley would like to be associated with this tribute and the motion of condolence this afternoon. Janine was an extraordinary woman. When you look back through the press clippings of the time that she was in the Senate, through the clippings of the 1990 election, when she lost and left, and then through the most recent clippings since her death on 20 November, there is just accolade after accolade. She is described as being strong, confident, honest, feisty, compassionate and smart. Indeed I could find virtually no criticisms, and I think that in itself is an extraordinary achievement.

Janine will be remembered as a trailblazer, a feminist and a very astute leader. For 10 years she was a very capable, strong and determined legislator. Again, going back to those press clippings, she was often controversial but she was always caring. She left an indelible mark not just on the Democrats and the Senate but on the nation as a whole.

In a press release that she put out on the 10th anniversary of her entry into the Senate she lists a number of achievements she had already attained by 14 December 1987, including:

her successful lobbying for the formation of the Senate Select Committee on Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes.

her role at the centre of the “no tax on necessities” controversy in 1982, when the Democrats blocked Fraser's Sales Tax bills 1-9A.

the successful negotiation of major changes to the first Hawke Government's Medicare system.

her strengthening of the Sex Discrimination Legislation.

her involvement in the sensitive Justice Murphy enquiry on behalf of the Democrats.

continuing public and party support through four Leadership ballots within 18 months.

her stewardship of the Democrats through their most successful election campaign ever.

her determined public opposition to the Australia Card.

I notice also in the press release, which reminds me more of her personality, she put at the end:

Janine counts as a personal triumph her (mostly) successful attempts to curb her vitriolic tongue and quick temper—she still doesn't suffer fools gladly (or at all!) but at least it doesn't show as much.

I think that sums up the person whom we remember in Janine Haines.

I want to put on the record the process by which she became a senator. Some people work very hard within political parties, ministers' offices and unions and in all sorts of ways to get themselves through the processes and into parliament. But for Janine it was largely through a mixture of an accident, her passion for justice and also the simple fact that she liked to keep busy. Like many women teachers in the early seventies she was forced out of teaching and into the home to look after her daughters. While she found that very fulfilling, it did not keep her busy enough. So she went and started a master's degree. But a whiplash injury meant that poring over microfilm and spending long hours in a library simply was not possible anymore.

She tried to find something to do. She volunteered to work in the office of Robin Millhouse, a Liberal Movement member. When the Liberal Movement ticket for the Senate was put together in 1975 Janine was asked to be No. 3 on that ticket. The record reads that she first stood for the Senate in 1975 as a No. 3 Liberal Movement candidate on the Liberal Movement ticket behind Steele Hall, who was elected. Former Senator Hall resigned from the Senate to contest the seat of Hawker in 1977 as a Liberal. By this time the Liberal Movement had officially merged back into the Liberal Party. As I read through various minutes of meetings it seems it was by a majority of only one vote. That was the decision and most of them went back into the Liberal Party. Some did not. They were joined by other progressive individuals who formed the new LM, and Janine was one of those.

Later that year the new LM and the Australia Party merged to form the Australian Democrats. There was a dilemma as to who should fill the vacancy when Steele Hall resigned because the party had disappeared. The Electoral Act by then required that someone from the same party at the time of a senator's election should fill the vacancy. The decision of the Dunstan state government was that they would go back to the original ticket. They could not go back to No. 2 on the ticket, Michael Wilson, because by then he was a member of the state lower house so that left No. 3 on the ticket, and that was Janine.

At the 1977 election Janine had been selected by the state of South Australia and formally appointed to the Senate. But, by the time all that happened, the Democrats had preselected their Senate ticket. She had not nominated and did not stand at the election because there were others on the ticket. I think from memory it was led by Ian Gilfillan, who is now in the state upper house. He was unsuccessful, but two Democrats were elected—Don Chipp in Victoria and Colin Mason in New South Wales. They began their term the day after Janine's first term expired on 30 June 1978. She made the decision then, with her husband Ian, that she enjoyed politics and wanted to go on. It was agreed that Ian would work with her to build the Democrats. He was a very important part of the party as well at this stage.

The records show that she was a member of the state council, she was a publicity officer and she served on campaign committees, gradually building the party, putting it together, getting ready to stand in the preselection in which she was successful in 1980. I met her at about this time when she first came down to Mount Gambier, trying to work on branch development throughout the state. At that stage she encouraged me to stand as a lower house candidate, which I did not do. It is now all history. Janine became the first woman to lead a political party and that, too, did not come easily. As I read from her press release, within a period of less than two years she fought four leadership ballots—for the deputy leader and then leader, taking that position when Don Chipp retired and turning the `Chippocrats' into the Democrats.

She was an enormously important role model for all women, not just those who were interested in political life. In the last few days I have met women in local government as well as state government who were inspired by Janine, so not just women in federal politics but women in state and local government politics as well. It goes beyond that. It goes to women who continued their careers in a whole raft of fields, having the confidence to keep going and in particular to seek promotion.

After she led from the front at the 1990 election and she was not successful she did what many people regretted—that is, she left politics. That is the only time, looking through all the press clippings, that I found people were not happy with her decision. Indeed, there were some quite strong criticisms both publicly and privately of her at that time for not continuing or at least not agreeing to work and stand for the following election. She said she would go, and go she did.

Janine did quite a lot, particularly in those early years. By 1992 she had written a book. She was travelling back and forth to Melbourne to host a Melbourne radio program. She was out on the speakers circuit where she was very active for many years. She wrote a weekly column for the Sunday Herald and book reviews for the Sydney Morning Herald. She was a deputy chancellor of the University of Adelaide from April 1997 to April 1999. A special tribute to her can be found at Old Parliament House, where a room is set out with even her trademark glasses on the desk. In 2001 her service to politics was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, and she was awarded an AM.

In a rare but typically forthright interview given in the aftermath of the 1990 election—as you read the article you realise that the journalist had great difficulty getting her to sit still and concentrate on the interview at hand—she said:

I have no regrets about anything I did in my whole life. I have no regrets about anything I failed to do except win in the last election.

Over the years Janine was loved and supported enormously by her family and friends, in particular by her husband, Ian, who is devastated by this loss. Above all else, Janine was a devoted wife to Ian, her loving husband of 37 years. In particular I want to extend my condolences to Ian, to Janine's daughter, Bronwyn, and Bronwyn's husband, Phillip, and to their children, Matthew and Sophie, who have lost nana. My condolences go to Melanie and her husband, Brad, and to little Max, who has also lost his nana.