Thursday, 24th October, 1991
took the chair at 10.30 a.m.
offered the Prayers.
CONSTITUTION (CITIZEN-INITIATED REFERENDUMS) BILL
Motion by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile agreed to:
That general business order of the day on the business paper for today relating to the Constitution (Citizen-Initiated Referendums) Bill stand an order of the day for Thursday, 5th December, 1991, with precedence of all other general business for that day.
Petition praying that the Premier fulfil his promise to ban the sending of stray dogs to laboratories within New South Wales, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
Petition praying that because of recognition of the right to life of the unborn child, the House support the Procurement of Miscarriage Limitation Bill, received from the Hon. Elaine Nile.
Petition praying that the House tighten the lax ownership laws and regulations governing firearms, received from the Hon. Ann Symonds.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL ISSUES
Debate resumed from 17th October.
The PRESIDENT: Order! Pursuant to the sessional order, debate on the report of the Standing Committee on Social Issues will take precedence for one hour.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [10.38]: In my brief opening remarks last week I supported the use of the term "innocent victims", which I believe was correctly adopted by people in the medically acquired HIV category. I made it clear that in no way are other people restricted from using that term if they so choose. I can think of some appropriate examples, and others were given by honourable members who spoke last week. One example is a child who is infected with AIDS because the mother, was an intravenous drug user, and contracted AIDS during or prior to pregnancy. I can think of a number of cases. It is not an exclusive term applicable only to that particular group. It is accurate and correct for them to apply it to themselves as they did when they formed their IDSIA group. Four dissenting opinions in my name appear in the report, though I was seeking, as I always do, to develop a consensus position on matters. Honourable members on parliamentary committees endeavour to do this. Though some recommendations were passed which perhaps were not what I would wish to happen, my approach was that sometimes achieving part of an objective is better than achieving none. Under the standing orders a dissenting opinion can be included. I did this on four occasions. The first one, on page 5 of the report, deals with the heart of the whole discussion. I took up the statement, emanating from various academics, that little was known about the virus in the early stages. I accepted in a technical sense that a great deal of research was needed on the virus itself, certainly in an endeavour to find a cure for the virus. First, the virus had to be defined and much research was needed.
That is a separate question from the basic one the committee was considering in its initial stages, namely as to whether in 1982 or soon after sufficient evidence was available to indicate that the virus was transmissible through bodily fluids such as blood or semen. It was my position - and that of others in the medical profession, academic areas, health services, people affected and infected with the AIDS virus through public health services - that a strong conviction was held that there was knowledge about the method of transmission, different from the knowledge about the technical aspects of the disease. I believe that from 1982 onwards action should have been taken to avoid contamination of the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service or blood products by persons who may have been AIDS carriers. In my dissenting opinion I stated:
The excellent submission to the committee by Robert and Lynette Hatch factually documents the failure of the Federal or New South Wales health departments to take prompt preventative action to stop at least 224 innocent persons in New South Wales from medically acquiring the AIDS HIV virus of whom 83 have already died.
I dissented from the report and stated:
. . . in that I believe there was gross neglect by the Federal and New South Wales health departments and that the medically acquired AIDS HIV persons still living or their next
of kin and or dependants are still morally and legally entitled to generous compensation as a matter of justice.
I also stated:
I also dissent from the change of reference from compensation to financial assistance when the committee had already taken the bulk of its evidence under the original terms of reference.
To indicate the seriousness of this matter I cite evidence which was made available on 23rd October - Wednesday of this week. This evidence would not have been known by the committee. It is a report from Paris. No one would accuse the French Government or its legal services of being irrational or lacking in caution and care. The Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith will be interested in this report. I am not sure whether she is even aware of it at this stage. It stated:
A former director of France's National Blood Transfusion Centre had been charged yesterday with deliberately distributing blood products contaminated with the AIDS virus . . . Two other former high-ranking health officials also were charged in connection with the scandal, which came to light because hundreds of French haemophiliacs received transfusions that infected them with the AIDS virus.
Michel Garretta, the former director of the transfusion centre, was charged by Judge Sabine Foulon with failing to warn consumers about blood products he knew were contaminated and toxic in 1984 and 1985 . . . The charge carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a 500,000 franc ($108,024) fine.
Jacques Roux, the former director-general of the Health Ministry, and Robert Netter, the former director of the National Health Laboratory, were charged with criminal negligence for allegedly failing to take swift action when they learned about the contamination.
They could face up to five years in prison and fines of 20,000 francs . . . The three were the first people charged in an AIDS scandal in which, according to government investigators, authorities deliberately delayed acting to protect haemophiliacs from contamination.
About 1200 French haemophiliacs, nearly half the total, now test positive for the HIV virus - the precursor of AIDS - and 185 have died of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Le Monde reported yesterday that a memo signed by Garretta dated August 11, 1989, but made public only now, showed that 400,000 people in France were contaminated by infected blood.
This article was published in the Australian on Wednesday 23rd October. It is a most serious development. The report concluded:
The criminal charges stem from a government report released in September recounting how haemophiliacs received blood transfusions that were sometimes known to be tainted with the HIV virus.
That emphasises the point made by the Hatches, other witnesses and me. In 1984-85 I called for a royal commission to investigate the whole situation because I believed there was either a deliberate cover-up or simple inefficiency. It was very difficult to obtain facts. We must all ask: what was known by our State and Federal health authorities? What was known by the government health departments, both Federal and State? What was known by the Federal Minister for Health and the State Minister for Health in 1982, 1983 and 1984 and until precautions came into effect in 1985? What did specialist doctors in hospitals really know? What did the Australian Medical Association really know? What did the private doctors know? In 1982 and 1983 a number of private doctors informed me that they had no doubt AIDS was being transmitted through the blood. Those doctors did not have the slightest doubt. One must ask what the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory and the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Services really knew. I believe a great deal was known. A royal commission may still be needed to arrive at the truth.
One must also ask what was known by the homosexuals themselves. Often the impression is given that they were like sheep going to the slaughter. Certainly many of them have died tragically from the disease, without any warning or knowledge until the mid 1980s. One of the prominent homosexual newspapers, the Star - a newspaper of similar size to the Daily Telegraph Mirror - devoted two full pages to this subject. On occasion I was supplied with copies of this newspaper by friends of mine. Because they knew of my concern about the AIDS virus, in early 1983 they gave me a copy of this article entitled "Guidelines for AIDS risk reduction". It was a reprint of an article published in San Francisco by the Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights, scientific affairs committee, which was republished in Sydney in the Star newspaper.
Even at that early stage doctors with whom I was working considered that the article was accurate. I thought it was so accurate that I had it reprinted and distributed to doctors and the media. If anyone had up-to-date knowledge of the effects of AIDS and how to institute a policy of AIDS risk reduction, one would think it would be the Bay area physicians associated with the homosexual movement. The imputation in the article was that they were homosexual physicians working in the Bay area of San Francisco who had been giving priority to the problems associated with AIDS. The early cases of AIDS were detected in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I did not intend in any way to attack the article; as I said, I had it reprinted because I could not get anything else as concise from authorities. The article was blunt because it was written for a specific section of the community. It contained important information which I considered should be made public to the non-homosexual community as well as the homosexual community. To that extent, as a result of the wide distribution of the Star newspaper, many thousands of homosexuals would have had this information. I shall refer to several extracts from the article. It says:
Guidelines for AIDS risk reduction. Avoid the direct exchange of bodily fluids. Strong evidence indicates that AIDS is transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids
of a person who is infectious. The most common way in which bodily fluids (semen, saliva, urine, blood, and even stool) are exchanged is through intimate sexual contact.
Reference to blood was included, even in those early days of 1983, in an article in a widely distributed homosexual newspaper. The article proceeds to tell what happens to people with AIDS and lists some of the signs that appear as the disease progresses, such as the breakdown of the immune system, leading to the person developing pneumonia or a form of cancer, Kaposi's sarcoma. It proceeds to explain the symptoms associated with that disease. The article concludes "But what are the symptoms or signs of AIDS" and gives more detail: unexplained increasing and persistent fatigue, periodic or regular fevers, weight loss that is unexpected, otherwise unexplained swollen glands, pink to purple flat or raised blotches or bumps and so on, persistent white spots or unusual blemishes in the mouth, persistent or often dry cough, and persistent diarrhoea. So far as I am aware those symptoms have not changed. Those doctors in San Francisco were certainly on the track. They asked "How is AIDS contagious" and proceeded to explain that in the following way:
This answer requires some understanding of general principles that apply to all contagious diseases. In general, disease transmission requires a vehicle carrying a significant number of germs into a susceptible person. A vehicle can be microscopic amounts of blood such as in the case of some types of hepatitis.
The next question posed was "You mean I can catch an infection from someone who does not appear ill?" That is the fact, that in what might be called the incubation period someone can carry the HIV virus without having the slightest indication that it is being carried. The article proceeded:
Thus, there may be two years or more between the time a person is infected and he feels sick with AIDS. It is therefore possible and probable (but not proven) that the AIDS agent may be spread during this time. There are general factors agreed upon by virtually all researchers as representing significant risk.
It should be borne in mind that this was written by physicians from the homosexual area in San Francisco and reprinted in Sydney. The high-risk activities are indicated as follows:
(1) Sexual activities in which bodily secretions are exchanged;
(2) The more partners with whom sexual activity includes secretion exchange, the greater the risk;
(3) The injection of illicit drugs or the shared use of needles for such injections.
The article then lists a number of practices particularly related to anal intercourse receptive and anal intercourse insertive, which are all high-risk activities. I do not believe it is correct to say that the homosexual communities themselves were blind to the dangers or the fact that AIDS was being transmitted through the blood,
whether or not the doctors could explain that scientifically. The fact is it was happening. One of the early cases in New York involved a nun who contracted the AIDS virus. She was one of the first non-homosexuals to contract AIDS. It was said that the only unusual thing that had happened to her was that she had a blood transfusion. They were the types of cases that started to appear. There was no suggestion that she had engaged in any other activity or intravenous drug use. From those reports the evidence was building up. It is not correct to say that little was known about the virus in the early stages and interpret that as referring to the transmission factors of AIDS. There may have been problems regarding the scientific knowledge about the actual virus, but not that it was being transmitted through blood or semen.
A submission was made to the committee by Robert and Lynette Hatch on 22nd February. They spent a great deal of time collating background evidence, to which other honourable members have referred. I have been through the material carefully. It cannot be questioned. It is accurate and thorough and because of the amount of detail it contains it could almost be an appendix to the report of the committee. It shows clearly some of the matters that were raised in 1982. I was personally involved in this and reference is made to my involvement at page 23 of their submission. I was interviewing doctors and other people on radio station 2GB when I hosted a Sunday night program. There was no intention of attacking homosexuals in that program. Indeed, the opposite was the case. We were trying to gather factual knowledge and give warnings about the dangers that were occurring because of the AIDS epidemic in the United States of America, which would make its way to Australia. On that program we discussed the transmission of AIDS by homosexuals. The Gay Solidarity group tried to have me taken off the air. They said that this discussion was frightening homosexuals and causing offence. I was simply interviewing doctors and other people about the dangers of AIDS being transmitted through blood and suggesting therefore that homosexuals should not be giving blood transfusions. That was on 17th October, 1982.
The submission by Robert and Lynette Hatch included a great deal of information. At page 22 they refer to Dr Mary Guinan, one of the top specialists at the Centre for Disease Control. My wife and I went to America especially to meet Dr Guinan in 1985. We spent time at the centre, asked that we be given appointments with these specialists and spent time with them. We appreciated that, because we are not health or government officials, but as honourable members know, the Americans are extremely hospitable and treat overseas visitors with respect and courtesy. They gave us a great deal of their time. Dr Guinan is a specialist in the transmission of diseases. She noted that hepatitis B could spread sexually among gay men and could be transmitted through blood contact. She issued a warning to watch for cases among haemophiliacs and blood transfusion recipients who were picking up the virus through blood products. That warning was given on 17th July, 1981. In December 1981 Dr Don Francis from the Centre for Disease Control - bear in mind that this is the world centre for the study of disease control, the recognised
authority for planet earth - insisted that the CDC needed to think about controlling this disease and, at the very least, that blood banks be put on the alert. He said:
If it spreads like hepatitis, it will certainly turn up in blood transfusions.
In January 1982 a physician was convinced that factor VIII had killed his patient, a haemophiliac. In January 1982 we were seeing the first deaths of haemophiliacs and blood transfusion recipients from pneumonia. On 10th December, 1982, there was an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on this matter. This was the first source of authoritative information for the medical panel of the Festival of Light, which is made up of local doctors, who happen to subscribe to this journal. They were monitoring the articles to see if there was any trend in sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea and syphilis. They campaigned for controls on the spread of those diseases through the community and warned people that they are one of the factors of promiscuity. While I was studying material on sexually transmitted diseases, suddenly reports of the New England Journal of Medicine brought to my attention the whole question of acquired immune deficiency syndrome and blood transfusion.
On 10th December, 1982, on page 25 of the submission of the Hatches to the Centre for Disease Control, the occurrence of AIDS among homosexual men, intravenous drug users and persons with haemophilia was reported. This suggested that AIDS may have been caused by infectious agents being transmitted sexually or through exposure to blood or blood products. The report that AIDS could be transmitted through blood led to an angry reaction from the blood bank authorities in the United States. Obviously, they felt that this was some kind of threat to the blood transfusion service. That is where there has been a conflict as to what information should be made available to the public. People with good intentions may have been trying to protect the Red Cross blood transfusion service and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. Others did not want to see the number of blood donors reduced. Some people had a mistaken idea that when one gave blood one might be infected with AIDS. Of course, this is impossible, though that was one of the red herrings at one stage.
Obviously health authorities were also concerned. They thought that perhaps they should keep a lid on this as it may frighten the community. I have always said that the community is better served with factual information than concealed facts in the long run. In this case, the concealment of information from the general public, and thereby from haemophiliacs and other people who needed to have blood transfusions, led directly to their infection and deaths. Haemophiliacs have said that if they knew more about this, if information had been made public - we have heard this in evidence given to the committee - they would rather have not taken the risk and have used other more primitive means that perhaps were available before blood products became available. They would have made the choice. Such a choice would have been very difficult for a person like Lorraine Cibilic who was in a horrific car accident and needed massive transfusions of blood. In such cases it would be very
difficult to see how there could have been an option as it is unlikely that she would have had her own blood stored, but patients who know that they are going to be operated on may take up such an option. If the facts had been revealed, anyone receiving blood products would have been able to say: "There is a risk now. Will I take the risk?". They were not even warned of the risk. Such people say that if they had been warned, in most cases, they would have taken some other medical treatment.
I will not go through the report in detail, but I urge honourable members to read it. I have quoted from reports from 1981 and 1982. What is happening in France may occur here. That would be tragic. Honourable members have heard about the court cases that are already draining doctors of their energy and distracting them from their medical duties. It is putting stress on them, sometimes to the extent that they have pulled out of related fields of medicine; for example, they may no longer specialise in the area of haemophilia. Imagine what would happen if criminal charges were laid against some key people in the health departments and so on. I make it clear that I am not advocating that. It just shows the seriousness of the situation. In my dissenting opinion on page 6 of the report I was critical of groups that had nothing to do with victims of medically-acquired AIDS, such as ACTUP, being allowed to give evidence to the Committee. That added to the confusion about the terms of reference of the committee. We were not investigating AIDS as such and all people infected with AIDS, including homosexuals. That is not to say that I am against an inquiry into the health needs of AIDS infected homosexuals. For a committee to do its duty, it must stick within its terms of reference, no matter how much any member of the committee may be emotionally affected by that decision or may feel that it discriminates against other groups. The alternative is to widen the terms of reference to include everyone. That was not done.
On page 7 in my dissenting opinion on chapter 3 I indicated that, even though I supported the committee's recommendation to have a lower amount of $50,000 without any waiver concerning future litigation, I strongly supported the resolution of the Western Australian Government that an average amount of $280,000 compensation be made available to each person who has medically-acquired AIDS or is HIV-positive on the basis of forgoing any further litigation in the courts. For 22 persons, this would amount to $5.4 million. I still believe that that is the way to go. I will be proved right in due course when court cases commence and we see huge amounts of money being spent on legal fees. The costs of the prosecution of the case and the defence of it are great. The Government will hire a team of Queen's Counsel. In the case of the Hatches their QC was up against five QCs. There were also associated barristers and solicitors. The Red Cross, the State health department, the Federal health department and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories were involved. It is not simply a case of two parties being involved. Many groups are involved and that is where these huge legal costs arise. I believe that those heavy legal expenses should be paid for in the first instance for those victims of medically-acquired AIDS. All the other money that is being spent could then be used in general health services for all persons infected with AIDS.
Obviously, all the money will not be spent on 250 people, but in the area of compensation and financial assistance they would have first call on compensation for legal expenses. The equivalent money should be spent in the area of health services for all those infected with AIDS.
From conversation with others and the evidence given before the committee, I know that various expert legal firms, such as Slater and Gordon, are already preparing their cases. The major weakness of the recommendations in the report is that $50,000 will be given without a waiver being signed. I am not criticising the committee as I would not have supported its recommendations even if it had mentioned that aspect. That would have been an even greater injustice. If there is no waiver, all people could proceed with legal actions - and those who will proceed will be from the 1983 and 1984 period. Some people have made a mistake by thinking that, because some of the earlier cases were lost, they should proceed only with cases that they are certain of winning. That is the normal procedure but that principle was not followed in these cases. They took into account that certain people would die before a court case could be finalised. The lawyers accepted the instructions of their clients, say, the parents, in the Hatch case and others. They said: let us go with this case now while our son is still alive. It was not the strongest case, although in my opinion it was completely justified and compensation should be paid. However, the condition was acquired in the 1982 period which the lawyers argued was a grey period when no one was too sure about the transfer of AIDS through blood.
I believe the grey area evaporated in 1982 and that in a legal sense it would be difficult to say that 1983 and 1984 were grey periods. I believe the lawyers will pick cases that fall in the latter period when all the information was made available and there should not be the slightest trouble proving neglect. Cases will be expensive and, as happens now in America, the payouts can be massive - not just $50,000, $250,000 but $3 million, $5 million and $8 million. One of the reasons that I introduced a private member's bill on this issue was in an attempt to circumvent a legal war breaking out. Whether that is possible at this late stage only God knows. Members of the committee were distressed about this issue. Not only did we foresee huge expense in court cases but we saw tremendous stress on those who have acquired AIDS medically.
We all know that the disease progresses more rapidly in an atmosphere of stress. We are putting these people under the stress of talking with lawyers day after day in order to prepare a case and then spending a lot of time in court, once again in an atmosphere of stress. That is too high a price to pay, not to mention the stress on doctors and others who will be required to give evidence of their knowledge at the time and to defend their actions. Doctors are not legal experts and are not comfortable in courts. Perhaps no one is comfortable in a court but doctors believe it to be a criminal waste of their energies to spend six months in a courtroom when they could be healing people in hospitals. Many doctors are specialists and to take them away from their area of medical care and put them into a courtroom is a double
tragedy. It is for that reason I strongly supported the Western Australian system, not just as it relates to compensation but also because it prevents further litigation. Unfortunately that will not happen in New South Wales. At page eight of the committee's report I included a dissenting opinion relating to services. I was making the point that the committee, in its desire to be compassionate, went beyond its terms of reference. It became quite confusing in committee discussions whether we were discussing those with medically-acquired AIDS or everyone who had AIDS. We had to keep clarifying the description of the group we were discussing and gradually it widened to include everyone infected with HIV-AIDS. In my dissenting statement I said:
I am not saying that HIV persons should not receive adequate or comprehensive services, which could be the basis of another Inquiry.
However, by broadening the Recommendations in this way to cover all HIV persons, the Committee may have inadvertently reduced the improvement of services to the primary group in its Inquiry, who should receive priority in the available services and care.
My reason for making that point is that specialised care groups have been set up for the homosexual community and the group with medically-acquired AIDS has been disadvantaged as it lacks this caring atmosphere that is available for the homosexual group. I went on to say that the percentages relating to the wider HIV-AIDS group had not changed dramatically in San Francisco or in Sydney between 1981 and 1991. The largest group, about 90 percent of overall cases, would be the homosexual group. Obviously that is related to sexual activity, particularly anal sex. It is interesting to note that those figures have hardly changed in that time. We can thank God that it has not burst out into the heterosexual community, as was feared, though we cannot say that is not possible, given intravenous drug use. However, it seems that the disease is contained to that group having homosexual or bisexual contact, and to intravenous drug users. Having said that, we should not ignore the other categories, that is, haemophiliacs or those who have acquired AIDS through blood transfusions. They are a relatively small group. Because it is a small group I believe it can be cared for, as it should be, with generous compensation or generous financial assistance, as included in the original terms of reference of the committee.
This State faces difficult economic times and that was of concern to committee members. I believe that money can be found for these victims from a total State budget of $17 billion annually. To talk of $10 million, $50 million or $100 million is not impossible. I believe the GIO and others should have been more fully involved so far as compensation is concerned. The money could have been found from insurance and not simply from the health budget. The GIO or someone will have to pay expensive legal costs. Perhaps it would be better to find the money to assist those with medically-acquired AIDS as a matter of justice and fairness. I do not believe the report has met that requirement, though it goes a long way in that direction. I hope the Government goes beyond the recommendations. I know other groups are lobbying the Government to give nothing. I hope that as a minimum the
Government accepts the committee's recommendations but goes the second mile on behalf of these people. As I said in my opening remarks, in France people are being charged with criminal neglect, and that demonstrates how serious this matter is. Those with medically-acquired AIDS are crying out for assistance.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [11.18]: It is quite obvious from the debate carried on in the media and in this House that this reference on medically-acquired HIV was the most difficult reference that any committee could have been given. In spite of all the apparent advances our society has made in decriminalising homosexuality and introducing anti-discrimination legislation and needle exchange programs, it is evident that fear and prejudice are very much with us. At this time when our society needs more than ever to work together as a caring and compassionate community to fight this most dreadful disease, the majority of members of the Standing Committee on Social Issues saw fit to recommend financial assistance from the Government to AIDS sufferers, not on the basis of need but according to the way the virus was acquired. I am well aware that members who signed the majority report will vehemently deny that their decision to recommend this financial assistance to people with medically-acquired HIV is in any way discriminatory. I know that they will deny that they are using the source of transmission to separate the guilty and the innocent. They claim there were other grounds for justifying compensation to people with medically-acquired HIV. However, the more I read the report and the more I recall the discussions we had in the committee the more I believe that there are inconsistencies and well-meaning obfuscation in the arguments used by those members to defend their positions.
I will start with a definition of AIDS sufferers according to the way in which the virus was acquired. The highlighting of this distinction in the committee's terms of reference automatically created an agenda of moral judgment and prejudice. Inevitably it divides people with AIDS into those who acquired the disease through sexual contact and intravenous drug use and those who acquired the disease through medical processes. There is the implication that people with medically-acquired AIDS are passive victims, whereas other people with AIDS have some choice in the matter, or at least undertook active behaviour which led to their eventual infection. If one is arguing that there is choice involved one has to assume that there is perfect information that the person who became infected was aware of his or her options and aware of the full consequences of his or her actions before they were taken. This assumption is invalid, given how little was known in the early 1980s and how much is still unknown about the disease. If this assumption was applicable to anyone it would be applicable to someone who had unsafe sex with a person he or she knew to be infected. One would be hard pressed to find such a person. Over the past few days I have been sent, through the University of Sydney, an article entitled "There is no quick fix for AIDS" written for the magazine of the Royal Australasian College of Psychiatrists by an American psychiatrist, Professor Leon Eisenberg, who practices in the Department of Social Medicine at the Harvard Medical School in Boston. In the course of the article Professor Eisenberg makes this statement:
Because the new disease has been stigmatized as a "gay-related infectious disease" the terminology fed the misconception that if straights avoided gays, they would be safe. The assumptions were that men and women are either gay or straight, that few are gay, and that only gays travel in the fast lane. The facts are otherwise. Despite the limitations of current data on sexuality in the American population, what is known is at complete variance with popular stereotypes. Being gay or being straight are not mutually exclusive categories; multiple partners are not limited to gays. Two out of three male gays report having had heterosexual intercourse; a fifth have been or are married.
That statement is very important and it is something we should remember. Most of the members who agreed to the majority report reject that they are making any moral judgment. However, the reasons that they give, which are listed on page 42 of the report, justify compensation for people with medically-acquired AIDS. To me those reasons are as suspect now as they were when they were offered to me in the committee room. The committee, by recommending assistance when the source of infection is a government instrumentality and when people with medically-acquired HIV have difficulty in pursuing litigation, comes dangerously close to usurping the function of the courts. Whatever Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile may say, if honourable members read the section in the report that deals with this matter they will see that there are as many lawyers who believe that cases that are taken to the courts will not succeed as there are lawyers who believe that they will succeed. Members of the reconvened committee stated that they believed that the third question in the original terms of reference was beyond the capacity and expertise of the committee. On page 4 of the report they agree that the committee is not a quasi-judicial body, yet by recommending compensation when the source of HIV infection is a government instrumentality they are automatically assuming negligence on the part of government instrumentalities.
All members of the public - and certainly all members of this Chamber - should read with great care the chronology chapter on pages 20 and 21 of the report. It lays out very clearly that the first cases of AIDS were discovered in 1981. By the end of 1982 the Centres for Disease Control knew of only 800 reported cases. But during 1983 and 1984 there was no test available to persuade any medical authority which people might be carrying the virus in their blood. Those pathological tests were available only in 1985. So prior to that time no blood transfusion service in the world could adequately test the donors. The first tests were carried out in the United States of America in March 1985. By May those very same tests were being carried out in Sydney. I do not understand how anyone can suggest that government instrumentalities, the blood banks and the hospitals could be negligent when they have no means of proving which of their donors might be carrying the virus. It is obvious that this issue of negligence is most contentious.
As I said earlier, the committee heard evidence from members of the legal profession. Some members argued that medically-acquired HIV cases would succeed in court; others argued that they would fail. I contend that the issue of negligence is one that properly belongs in the courts. Even if, as Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile has said, some members of the medical profession in France have now been charged
with criminal negligence, that does not mean that those charges will hold. Those members of the medical profession may well be acquitted. It appears to me that the majority of the members of the committee - particularly the two members of the committee who had another dissenting report - are falling over themselves to try to justify their recommendations. There is a contradiction in their decision to recommend assistance when the source of infection is a government instrumentality which implies negligence. They have denied that their recommendation is in lieu of legal compensation. Paragraph 3.63 of the report states:
There is a clear distinction between legal compensation and financial assistance where no legal negligence is in question.
Bypassing the contradiction in the majority position, we must ask whether the State should accept financial responsibility for people's misfortunes if other avenues are not available. Mr Peter Garling, a barrister, said in evidence before the committee:
The basis on which we have compensated people is if one can establish fault . . . We have said, "If you can establish fault then the law either, in accordance with its common law position or in accordance with its statutorily amended common law position has provided damages for it" and I cannot see that there is any special basis for separating the group of medically acquired HIV . . . victims from any other group of innocently afflicted people in our society. I think that if this committee was to recommend that there be, in effect, a special legislative package dealing with this particular group, that it would be very hard logically to resist such a package in respect of a very large number of other groups.
In other words, the logical extension of the committee's decision to provide compensation for people with medically acquired HIV would be to permit groups of people with other medically acquired conditions, and who undoubtedly have suffered at the hands of government instrumentalities or government supervised instrumentalities - I refer of course to Chelmsford - to receive compensation from the Government. That compensation has not been forthcoming. In fact, it has been denied in public statements by the Government. Furthermore, the majority recommendation of compensation exclusively to people with medically acquired HIV because of the extreme physical trauma that is the nature of HIV and the substantial costs of caring for someone with HIV is an insult to other people with AIDS. All people with AIDs suffer just as much, regardless of the source of infection, and substantial costs are incurred in caring for anyone with HIV.
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: On a point of order. Obviously this is an emotional issue and there are two different sides to it. However, last week and this morning other members have been heard in silence. I take great exception to the interjections of the Hon. Franca Arena. In the interests of fair and orderly debate I ask that members be directed to be silent while the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby is speaking.
The Hon. Franca Arena: On the point of order. Members interject during every debate on every issue in this Chamber. I take great exception to the point of order, taken because this subject is very dear to the honourable member's heart. I shall interject until such time as I am directed not to.
The PRESIDENT: Order! No point of order is involved.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: The reasoning I was outlining also trivialises the suffering of people with other terminal, medically acquired diseases. The committee did not actively seek evidence from people with other medically acquired diseases. However, it took formal evidence from one person with medically acquired hepatitis C, a terminal disease. That person was firmly opposed to the idea of compensation for herself, people with medically acquired HIV, or people with medically acquired diseases of any kind. She said:
I would not be in agreement with compensation on either (medically acquired HIV or Hepatitis C) . . . I think I know the system fairly well, and the crying need is for care for people and support services . . . not to give people financial handouts . . .
Time and again it was clear to me and other members of the dissenting minority that people with medically acquired HIV could not be separated from other people with HIV and people with other medically acquired diseases. The fact that many of the medically acquired HIV community have dependent children or spouses is tragic and lamentable. However, that is not a sufficient ground for making them special cases. People with other medically acquired diseases or those who lose their lives because of surgical complications also have dependants, and so do other people with AIDS. Further, people who acquire AIDS other than by medical means have grandmothers, mothers, sisters and brothers - a whole family network that is destroyed by the death of their loved one, in exactly the same way as people who in the media talk about the death of their children in the most distressing terms. They are not a unique group.
I find it quite unacceptable that the majority of the committee should see fit to compensate people with medically acquired HIV because of the stigma they suffer as a result of incorrect assumptions about their sexual orientation or possible drug use. To do so only serves to reinforce the social stigma. The committee is advocating compensation so that people with medically acquired HIV will not be lumped with groups now perceived by some sections of the community as socially undesirable. Community attitudes to people with AIDS are bad enough already. Indeed, it is most saddening to read the results of a recent survey, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30th September, carried out by Dr John McCallum of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, in Canberra. Dr McCallum found that Australians feel more sympathy for people who kill themselves through drinking or smoking than for homosexuals who die from AIDS. However, almost everyone feels sorry for people who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion. In general, people still blame homosexuals and drug users for contracting AIDS. As parliamentarians we should not in any way advocate
discrimination. The committee majority may not realise it, but unfortunately its recommendation of special treatment for people according to how they acquired the disease only reinforces that existing prejudice. The committee's discrimination will divide the community and ultimately impact on society as a whole, lulling people into a dangerous sense of complacency about the virus. As parliamentarians we must recognise that we lead the community by the example we set.
The PRESIDENT: Order! Pursuant to the sessional order the time allowed for the debate has expired. The debate will be set down on the notice paper for the next Thursday on which general business has priority over government business.
FAMILY IMPACT COMMISSION BILL
Motion by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile agreed to.
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to form a Family Impact Commission to conduct Family Impact Studies into the moral, social and economic impact of relevant legislation and appropriations upon the traditional family unit.
GAY AND LESBIAN MARDI GRAS
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [11.40]: I move:
That this House calls on the Government to prohibit any future Homosexual and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parades on the public streets of New South Wales in view of the AIDS epidemic and the provocation of assaults on homosexuals.
The homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade, as it is now called, commenced in 1978. Originally it was called the homosexual mardi gras parade. It is often called in the media the gay mardi gras. However, the organisers still continue to use the full description, the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade. That title is used on their publicity and on the street banners along Oxford Street where the march is held. Though complaints had been made about previous mardi gras, in 1989 this matter came to a head. At that time a great deal of public criticism was made about the parades. One critic was the Reverend Gordon Moyes, head of the Wesley Central Mission - formerly known as the Central Methodist Mission where the Reverend Alan Walker was superintendent. This is the largest and most active city church in Sydney. Thousands of people are involved in its congregation and activities. Hundreds of people are involved in its welfare programs through a number of hostels, children's homes, drug rehabilitation activities, accommodation, teenage refuges and so on. As well as operating in Pitt Street, it has counselling centres, Lifeline and Youthline centres. I stress this to show that in no way could the Reverend Gordon Moyes or the Wesley Mission be described as judgmental or uncaring. The mission has never been criticised as such but is seen as a genuine place of love and care. On 18th February, 1989, following the homosexual and
lesbian mardi gras parade, the Reverend Gordon Moyes said, "Sydney has now established a reputation as the moral sewer of the Pacific with such indecent exhibitionism".
I have never used that term, but in focusing one's attention upon it it is hard to think of a more repulsive or negative description. I am not criticising Reverend Moyes for his choice of those words. I believe he was correct. It is sad to believe that our beautiful city, with its myriad activities, church life and central business district, could be described as a moral sewer. Sydney possesses a beautiful harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Each year many ethnic communities hold their own festivals each year at Darling Harbour, the Opera House and so on. The homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade is not an exclusive event for homosexuals or tourists to which honourable members of this House can close their minds. A decision must be made.
In many ways this issue is as controversial as that of gun control or compensation for medically-acquired AIDS victims. The issue of prohibiting the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade is controversial because those who participate in the parade would strongly defend their activities. Judging by what has occurred on other occasions some honourable members in this House would defend the parade as would some members of the community, on the basis that these people have a right to take part in their mardi gras. Some people support this parade on the basis of civil or human rights, as an issue of freedom of expression, though they may be opposed to homosexuality. Other people are happy with homosexuality in general and do not find the mardi gras parade offensive. Different opinions are held and no matter what the Parliament does this motion will be controversial. If this House ignores this issue, we are tacitly supporting and endorsing it. In fact, we are burying our heads in the sand by not taking action.
Governments have been loath to move into the firing line on this issue because it is controversial. These parades commenced in the Wran Labor Government years from 1978 until the election of the Greiner-Murray Government in 1988, and they have continued. In 1988 many people thought that restrictions would be placed on the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade, not going so far as to prohibit it but allowing some alternative action to be taken. It could be restricted to an expression of an opinion - in other words a protest march with people dressed in normal attire, not indulging in indecent or offensive activity. I would have no objection to that. Every group in the community has a right to express its views under our policies of free speech. One week people may march through the city streets in opposition to homosexuality and the next week people may march campaigning for more rights for homosexuals. That is a legitimate area of free speech and opinion. I do not believe the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade comes into that category. It is a specialist one-only event. As the Reverend Gordon Moyes has said, our city could now be described as a moral sewer. Evidence exists to support that description.
In the motion I have raised two relevant issues in addition to offensiveness. These give further urgency to the motion which, if passed, will assist the Government. At present the Government has put this issue in the too-hard basket. Because it is controversial, the Government is trying to avoid making a decision. The Labor Party, by its silence, supports the parade. The Liberal Party-National Party Government does nothing about it. However, the point has been reached where something should be done. If the Government is loath to take action, the motion, if passed by this House, may encourage it to make a policy decision regarding any future homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parades.
I have included two additional factors in the motion. One of them we have discussed today and last week, without labelling it: the AIDS epidemic in this State. Sydney can be described as not only a moral sewer but the centre of the AIDS epidemic in Australia. About two thirds of all AIDS cases occur in the Sydney area, most of them right smack in the centre of the area traversed by the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras, the Oxford Street region. Most AIDS cases in Australia are dealt with by the central health district and the eastern suburbs health district. Those districts are superimposed over the route of the mardi gras parade. The mardi gras cannot be separated from the AIDS epidemic. I know that attempts have been made in recent years to have fund raising activities associated with the mardi gras. People go along with collection buckets, attempting to raise money to assist people with AIDS in the homosexual community and to provide further support for them. I do not question that. Their actions may be sincere, but the fund raising to a degree is a device that might reduce some of the criticism directed against the mardi gras. The suggestion made is that many of the people involved are or will be infected with AIDS. Last year I noted a banner suggesting "1,500 of us died from AIDS". I took that to mean that literally 1,500 people who had taken part in previous mardi gras parades were no longer with them. Obviously the AIDS epidemic is a major factor in the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras.
My concern is that as a result of the publicity given to the parade and the number of groups who come to Sydney to take part in it, the mardi gras has become a big event on the homosexual calendar. We know that many homosexual groups travel to Sydney from other States, various Pacific nations, the United States of America and Europe. In some instances those people could arrive in Sydney having the AIDS virus, knowingly or unknowingly, or worse still, become infected with it while here and then return to Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne or other cities and spread the AIDS virus. That is why I refer to the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras as being in some ways an AIDS bomb. Everyone comes together for the event and it explodes at the end when everyone returns to where they came from. If someone had an evil intent, the easiest way to spread AIDS would be to organise a homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade, hold a huge dance-come-ball - a sleaze ball - for 9,000 to 12,000 homosexuals and provide alcohol. That is a serious mix of factors and I could not accept any argument that suggested that would not lead to an extension or spread of the AIDS virus on that night. That is almost an automatic
result. Only God would know how many people are infected during the event each year. Some people would be and could carry the virus back to other States.
The other matter I have included in the motion and I know is of concern to all honourable members, homosexuals, the Police Service and the Government is the dramatic increase in the number of assaults and bashings of homosexuals. A large number of murders of homosexual men have taken place in the city. The people who have carried out those assaults and murders in many cases have been young men in the age bracket of 18 to 19 years. I contend that the homosexual mardi gras parade is a provocation and it would be in the best interests of homosexuals who live in Sydney not to have a homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade. I have always said that it leads to a negative reaction, apart from criticism - whether it be mine or that of Reverend Gordon Moyes. That criticism is only words. The homosexual community is well used to criticism and can handle it. What they cannot handle and should not have to handle are the physical assaults and murders. It was reported in the media and personally to me during the most recent mardi gras parade that groups of young men were selecting targets in the parade, saying "We will get him", pointing towards a particular float and identifying someone there. I assume they had no prior knowledge of the person but perhaps because of the outrageous outfit he was wearing they targeted him. Who knows whether that individual was one of the victims of the tragic murders.
Frequently the assaults on homosexual men involve bashing and kicking which virtually crushes the person's head and results in death. It is even worse than a person taking a gun and shooting another person. It is a most violent form of death. I am the first to say that no homosexual - in fact no one - deserves to die like that. It would seem that the mardi gras incites that reaction in a sick, unbalanced and violent group of people in our society. All societies have that type of person, and one reason for having a police force is to keep them under control and restrain them as much as possible. It is not always easy. At night gangs roam the streets, but the police cannot arrest people simply for being on the streets. The gang identifies and isolates a particular homosexual and carries out a brutal attack. Sometimes it is argued that there was no intention to kill the person assaulted on the part of the group that engages in that type of physical assault, but the human body can stand only so much punishment. Those who engage in such assaults must be aware that their actions could take the life of the person being assaulted. It is the height of stupidity to suggest that those carrying out these assaults could kick a person in the head repeatedly for some time and then be shocked when the victim dies. An article headed "Extreme prejudice", published in the Good Weekend on 13th January, reported on research on this issue. It included the following:
It's gay-bashing season, when cowardly gangs - often made up of privileged schoolboys barely in their teens - assault and murder in the streets.
In this case the journalist quoted the remarks of some of the bashing victims:
There were four of them: about 17, all tall, male, one blond. The blond one cupped his hand to his mouth and shouted, "F..kin' poofters!". They were standing in Taylor Square, the hub of Sydney's gay district, and the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi
Gras Parade had just gone by. A mainly gay crowd of 100,000 jammed the roadway, but there was a gap around the four young men.
Those are the types of persons I was referring to who attend the mardi gras parade not for enjoyment but to select targets. The report continued:
"He's a bloody faggot!" Their voices were becoming hoarse now. They had been shouting their hatred for hours. Few shouted back. The four young men felt no threat of violence from the thousands they were abusing. They were safe, and knew it.
Eight months later, on a warm Sunday night in spring, Jim Timmins and Craig Brown waited in Taylor Square for a bus. Even half an hour past midnight, the place was still buzzing.
Taylor Square is not a square but a huge, ill-shaped circle with seven major roads feeding cars, buses and trucks everlasting through it. Within five minutes' walk of all the main dance bars, pubs and coffee shops of Sydney's gay community.
Gay men from cities and towns and farms all over the country moved here in their thousands. Here was their golden land, where they could live their lives as they chose, free and clean of the hatred which had always followed them.
Many of them knew Timmins and Brown, and waved as the two men walked towards a bus stop in Taylor Square. Until recently, they were president and secretary of the Goldsmith Foundation, the main financial support organisation for people with AIDS.
At the bus stop, Timmins saw a young man and his girlfriend, and another young man a metre away. "Got a cigarette?" the first man asked Brown.
"No, sorry, I don't smoke." "What's that then?" The man wrapped his finger on Brown's shirt pocket.
Mr PRESIDENT: Order! Pursuant to sessional orders, business is interrupted for the taking of questions.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
EASTERN CREEK RACEWAY SUPERCAR TRACK
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: My question is directed to the Deputy Leader of the Government and the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, representing the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing and Minister Assisting the Premier. I ask the Minister how much more money this Government plans to spend on Eastern Creek? Has the Government considered a supercart track for the site? Will
taxpayers now be required to pay around another $20 million on the track and its environs? Will the Government in any way finance or financially guarantee future events at Eastern Creek, which has been described by the Assistant Treasurer, the honourable member for North Shore, as a black-hole out of which the Government now finds it impossible to climb?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: At least today the Leader of the Opposition has his procedural game plan right. Naturally, this is a very similar question to the one he tried to ask yesterday, but now he is able to ask it. A development application was lodged by Dovigo Pty Limited to construct a supercart, or go-cart, track at Eastern Creek. The Government has made no commitment whatsoever to that application. In fact, the development application has lapsed. There is no application by anyone with the Department of Planning and the Government has no plans to commit any more funds to Eastern Creek. While I have the opportunity I shall talk a little more about the western Sydney recreation area. It is very interesting to note that land acquisitions in the west started as early as 1973. During the time of the previous Wran and Unsworth Labor governments - and indeed for a very brief time during the time of the former conservative Government - a large amount of land was acquired in western Sydney for a recreation area, of which Eastern Creek is a part - for some very necessary green space corridors in the west.
One of the things that is most disappointing about the Opposition is that it appears to be totally unwilling to recognise the benefits to the people of western Sydney that will accrue from the western Sydney recreation area. All they seem to want to do is knock the Government. The truth is that there is a substantial investment in the western Sydney recreation area and in the Eastern Creek motorcycle track. We do not hear the Opposition talking too much about some of the things it did when it was in government. We all remember Darling Harbour; we still have Darling Harbour.
The Hon. D. F. Moppett: What about its attempts to recreate Moonee Ponds out at Chipping Norton? That was the greatest scandal of all times.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I thank the Hon. D. F. Moppett for reminding me of that. I have a very interesting schedule here. As we are talking about government expenditure on capital projects such as Eastern Creek, I remind the House of the illustrious record of the crew opposite when it was in government. Opposition members will all remember that the cost of Darling Harbour was estimated at $200 million. The actual cost was $795 million - a blowout of $595 million. We remember that the estimated cost of the Sydney football stadium was $58 million. It blew out to $68 million. That does not include the land acquisition. For Parramatta stadium there was a blowout of $1 million. The Chipping Norton lakes scheme cost $25 million, and we do not hear too much about that. The point I am trying to make is that this crew opposite -
The Hon. M. R. Egan: We will take the credit for Darling Harbour if you will take the blame for Eastern Creek.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: One of the problems with the Leader of the Opposition is that he continues to be negative. At Eastern Creek there is a world-class motor racing circuit, grandstands and land which can be developed in association with the motor racing industry. All of that will be of benefit to the people of New South Wales. Honourable members should look at what other States have spent. The Queensland Government has incurred a loss of $15 million on the Indy race, but it knew that that race would be of economic benefit to the people of Queensland. The activities of Eastern Creek, including the five-year plan announced by the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing and Minister Assisting the Premier, will be of immense benefit for the people of New South Wales. This year's grand prix was worth $12 million to the people of New South Wales. The truth is that Eastern Creek Raceway and the western Sydney recreation area are the jewels in the crown of New South Wales. This is something of which the people of New South Wales and western Sydney should be very proud. They have an asset that was acquired by various governments from 1973 on at a cost exceeding $110 million.
I do not think any of the members opposite come from the western suburbs. None of them come from the country either. If they ever bothered to go out there and talk to the people in the western suburbs, they would realise just how much the people appreciate not only what is being done for them by this Government - I like to give credit where it is due - but also by the previous Government. It was responsible for purchasing most of the land. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition, Bob Carr, was responsible for purchasing a great deal of the land in the western Sydney recreation area. Opposition members should be glad, but all they do is knock the Government. Yesterday the Hon. Franca Arena criticised the Government for considering some sort of sporting complex that we are not even considering. Opposition members do not like the Government doing anything for the people. Anything it does for the people, they criticise. There have been some minor problems with Eastern Creek, but history will show that the Eastern Creek Raceway and the western Sydney recreation area will be of enormous benefit in a recreational and social sense for the people of western Sydney. This is very important. Equally so, that area, and particularly the raceway, will be a major source of economic benefit for the people of New South Wales.
EASTERN CREEK RACEWAY SUPERCAR TRACK
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I ask a supplementary question of the Minister. Are we to take from the beginning of the Minister's answer that Dovigo still has some interest in the Eastern Creek Raceway? Is it a fact that only their controlling interest has gone?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: The Leader of the Opposition obviously did not listen to what I said. No, Dovigo's interest has been purchased by the western Sydney recreation area.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: And has no more interest in it?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: No.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO: Will the Minister for Health and Community Services inform the House what the Government is doing for mental health services in New South Wales, following the commencement of the Mental Health Act?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: This is an appropriate question as this week is mental health week. The Opposition has shown no interest in mental health week. The department is directing its focus on the Barclay report and as a consequence has undertaken a large capital works program related to mental health facilities. Community health facilities have been funded in four areas and in two regions, with a further four new facilities to be completed during this financial year. The new facilities are as follows: at Mount Druitt Hospital, a 16-bed special purpose unit for the confused and disturbed elderly; at Shellharbour District Hospital, a 20-bed psychiatric rehabilitation unit; at Blacktown District Hospital, a 40-bed psychiatric admission unit; and at the Lottie Stewart Hospital at Dundas, two 16-bed special purpose units for the confused and disturbed elderly. Those four units will be operational before the end of this financial year. This Government has, in its three years in office, shown a commitment to the needs of the mentally ill. The capital works program is one of the largest construction programs undertaken by a government to meet the needs of those who are mentally ill. It is an illustration of this Government's continuing commitment to meet the capital works needs in the health area.
EASTERN CREEK RACEWAY
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: My question without notice is directed to the acting Leader of the House. Is the Minister aware that only yesterday the Premier said, in answer to a question, "The Government does not propose to spend any more of taxpayers' money" on Eastern Creek Raceway. If that is the case, whose money will be spent, or did the Premier mislead the Parliament?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: As usual, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is being cute; he is a very cute person. Obviously what was implied by the question
was: does the Government intend to spend any additional money on the Eastern Creek Raceway and the answer to the question is no. One does not have to be a genius to read the Budget Papers or the Auditor-General's Report, and the honourable member would be aware that the Government will continue to service the loans for Eastern Creek Raceway. Amongst those loans are some of the moneys I alluded to in my first answer, that is, moneys spent by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place when he was buying land for the western Sydney recreation area. There will be no additional money spent by the Government on Eastern Creek Raceway. The Premier yesterday spoke the truth.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Will the Minister inform the House of the development of the monitoring process that was promised on the introduction of the Mental Health Act?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: The honourable member serves on the members' advisory committee on health and community services and his interest is reflective of the continuing interest of all government members concerning mental health. The former Minister for Health established a Mental Health Act implementation monitoring committee, following the introduction of the Mental Health Act. The terms of reference of the committee are: to monitor the implementation and operation of the new Mental Health Act; to advise on processes and strategies that will assist and ease the implementation process; and to advise of and recommend action for overcoming any difficulties or problems associated with the implementation of the new Act. The committee has 21 members and is chaired by Ms Ann Deveson. Membership includes medical representatives, including mental health representatives, as well as community, consumer and legal representatives. The general perception in the community is that the legislation is working well. When the Mental Health Bill was debated in this Chamber an amendment was agreed to that a report be made to the Parliament within two years of the commencement of the Act.
Yesterday I met with the chairperson of the committee, Ms Deveson, and discussed among other things the most appropriate way to undertake a thorough analysis of the operational aspects of the legislation. As a result of that discussion a full program for review and report on the Act is to be made available to me. When I receive that program I will make the information available to members of this House. I have little doubt that honourable members, particularly government members, will encourage people in the community to make submissions and participate in the review.
The Hon. Franca Arena: What is the timetable?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I am waiting for Ms Deveson to give me the timetable and I will make it available. I should like full community participation in the review and I want members of the committee to travel around the State and meet in public forums with those who have an interest in this legislation so that we have maximum input into the review. I wish to emphasise that the Act itself is not being reviewed but only the operations of it to ensure that the maximum benefits are achieved from the legislation. I promised Ms Deveson that she would have the full backing of the Department of Health as she and her committee undertake this review. The department's media unit will provide whatever assistance is required and I have instructed the department to undertake a search of all correspondence sent to me and to the department complaining about mental health. That correspondence may be of assistance to Ms Deveson in targeting issues of concern. The Government acknowledges the complex needs of people who are mentally ill and the importance of closely monitoring policy and legislative reforms. The review of the Act is fundamentally about maximising the benefits of the new legislation to the benefit of those it seeks to serve. The Government's commitment to improving mental health services is demonstrated by the allocation to mental health in the Budget. This year the mental health budget is $262,800,000. In real terms, that is, taking into account the consumer price index, this is a $4.4 million increase on funding allocated last year, a real increase of 2 per cent. I thank the honourable member for his question in this important area and I am pleased that he is showing ongoing interest in this issue.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Hon. R. D. DYER: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Does the Minister recall, contrary to his assertion a short time ago in question time that the Opposition was not showing any interest in mental health week, that earlier this week I asked him a question concerning crisis mental health teams? As the Minister is now showing such a keen interest in mental health, will he indicate what the answer is to the question I posed to him a couple of days ago?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: As the honourable member is aware, I answered the question at the time.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I ask a supplementary question. I preface my question by indicating to the Minister that my question related to crisis mental health teams in, among other locations, the lower North Shore and on the Tweed. The Minister indicated he would seek more detailed information as to claims that those services had sustained some cuts in operating hours as a result of budgetary
constraints. Will the Minister seek the information that he indicated he would provide to me?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I will obtain that information. The honourable member referred to the Tweed. I am able to indicate from information available to me that there was no cut in the services provided by the mental health crisis team. However, I indicate to the House that certain steps were taken by an officer which led to a community worker being suspended from duty. That suspension has been revoked following a review.
ELECTRICITY COMMISSION KOALA HABITAT PROTECTION
The Hon. D. J. GAY: Is the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy aware that the Australian Koala Foundation has determined that this week should be known as "Save the koala week"? As this matter is important, what is the Electricity Commission doing to help not only the koalas, wombats and possums but also other native wildlife now threatened by the urban sprawl of Sydney and the Central Coast?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I thank the Hon. D. J. Gay for his question and for his continuing interest in environmental matters. The Electricity Commission of New South Wales is committed to improving the New South Wales environment. As part of the commission's emphasis on improving the environment in close proximity to major power station sites it will undertake a major tree-planting program over the next 10 years. Industrial projects such as our power stations, which are an important part of the electricity network in this State, are not necessarily the most attractive features on our landscape. The planting of trees has helped to gain community acceptance and support for our power stations and has drawn attention to the commission's desire to protect the environment. This year the commission commenced a major tree-planting project at the Central Coast and Bayswater power stations to foster trees suitable for koala habitats. A grant of $500,000 has been made to the commission from the State Energy Research and Development Fund to plant 20,000 trees in Eraring and 80,000 trees at Bayswater.
The Hon. R. S. L. Jones: What about Oberon?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: What about it? All of the Eraring trees and half of the Bayswater plantings were completed in autumn 1991 with the balance expected to be completed in 1992. The Eraring plantings will supplement 30,000 trees previously planted in the same locality at the commission's expense. In 1989 the commission, under the direction of Professor Ian Hume, professor of biology, agreed to sponsor research by the University of Sydney into the feeding of koalas. There is an obvious need for a continued scientific input into both the Eraring and the Bayswater tree-planting programs to research the habitats and feeding habits of koalas. I am pleased to announce to the House today that the Electricity Commission has agreed to continue this sponsorship for another 10 years. Recently the
commission approved that the Eraring open-cut site be developed as a research facility and a passive wildlife sanctuary for fostering koalas and other native animals. This project is just another example of Elcom's desire to see our fragile environment protected. It will also give the public an opportunity to be involved in this new wildlife sanctuary.
This new research facility and passive wildlife sanctuary in Eraring will be developed on 160 hectares. Eraring, which was once a dairy farm, was later set aside as an open-cut mine. The commission has decided not to mine the area and the site can now be used as a much needed sanctuary. It is proposed that koalas and other native wildlife which have been made homeless by housing developments and other projects around Sydney and the Central Coast will find a home in the sanctuary. I am sure the Hon. R. S. L. Jones will be interested to learn that, in order to secure the future of this native wildlife, the commission will build a koala and dog-proof fence around the 7.5 kilometre perimeter of this sanctuary. This is expected to cost more than $100,000.
The Hon. Franca Arena: It will cost $100,000! So that is how the Government wastes its money.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Over the last few days I have been totally disillusioned by the Hon. Franca Arena. I thought she was a sport-loving woman who loved koalas. I now find that she does not like either.
The Hon. Franca Arena: The Minister talked about dogs.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: We want to keep the dogs out.
The Hon. Franca Arena: So the dogs are being kept out. I thought the Minister wanted to bring them in.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: The Hon. Franca Arena cannot get out of it that quickly. The Hon. D. J. Gay will be interested to know that native animals already seen on the site include wallabies and bandicoots. A range of native birds have also been observed. A local creek with an unspoiled natural surface provides the area with a continuous water supply. The Electricity Commission deserves the highest praise for this important initiative. I am pleased to be able to inform the House of this new project in this important national "Save the koala week".
LIGHT RAIL SYSTEM
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, representing the Minister for Transport. Will the proposed sale of a considerable portion of the Randwick bus
depot jeopardise the future possibility of a light rail system incorporating a part of this depot? What feasibility study, if any, has been undertaken to determine how much land, currently occupied by the depot, will be needed for the light rail system? Is a vital portion of the corridor between Church Street and Cook Street still on the market? How will the light rail proceed if this piece of the corridor is sold and most of the bus depot is sold? Will the Minister instigate an urgent investigation into the future needs of the proposed light rail system?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I will inform the Minister for Transport of the honourable member's question. I am sure he will receive an answer in due course.
BARCLAY COTTAGE CLOSURE
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Is the Minister for Health and Community Services aware of great community concern in the North Sydney health area about the possible closure of Barclay cottage, a place where young people at risk of physical, sexual and emotional abuse or neglect can find medium-term accommodation? Is the Minister able to reassure the local community that Barclay cottage will not be closed?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I can assure the honourable member that I have received no proposal that would involve the closure of Barclay cottage. I know that there is an important need for these services. I will look at the matter immediately and advise the honourable member in due course.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEVELOPMENT LEVIES
The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Are there any proposals to change planning laws requiring councils to be more publicly accountable for the money they levy from developers? If so, will the Minister detail to the House the changes that we could expect?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Under section 94 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, local councils can require a contribution from developers when a new development gives rise to an increased demand for public facilities such as drainage, open space, roads or neighbourhood centres. Some councils are totally responsible in the use of their power to raise these levies; others are not. Some councils are explicit about how the contributions are arrived at and they spend the money quickly on the works for which it was raised. However, in the case of some councils contributions have not been directly related to an increased demand for facilities and they have been going into councils' general finances where they are effectively lost.
In 1989 a commission of inquiry held by Commissioner Simpson investigated the issues surrounding section 94. The inquiry indicated that although charges under section 94 were a fair means of providing public amenities and services, the system should be administered in a much more consistent, publicly accountable and professional way. Changes are now proposed to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act which will ensure that section 94 contributions are administered in a more publicly accountable manner. Over the years there have been many examples of councils not professionally managing section 94 contributions. For example, in evidence from a special investigation under the Local Government Act, a North Coast council was found to hold about $16 million of unspent contributions with no plans for expenditure. Therefore the money was not being spent within a reasonable time. It was found that the interest from the contributions was being skimmed and used in general revenue. Another example - again in evidence from a special investigation under the Local Government Act - is that a council in western Sydney did not have a satisfactory system for properly and fully recording and monitoring the collection and expenditure of contributions under section 94. The council had properly assessed the need for a level of contributions in release areas, but in existing urban areas its charges did not reflect the costs involved. Moreover, the investigation revealed:
While the council places significant emphasis on the assessment (at least in the new release areas) and collection of contributions, little thought is given to the provision of the services, facilities and amenities for which the contributions are obtained.
. . .
No written policies or lists of contribution rates were available for developers or the general public although it was claimed information was given verbally as requested.
Another example was where a Central Coast council sought to levy a contribution without specifying the amount. This was revealed in a court case earlier this year. Yet another example is where a rural council did not spend section 94 funds in a reasonable time and interest was not returned to section 94 funds but used to augment general funds. The intended change to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act involves a requirement for councils to directly involve their local communities in drawing up plans for developers' contributions. Section 94 contributions plans will be publicly exhibited and must set out councils' policies for levying and spending contributions. I intend that councils will have section 94 contributions plans in place before a contribution can be levied. It is proposed that the need for such plans will commence in or about January 1993, to give councils the opportunity to prepare them.
The changes will benefit developers, councils and the community. Developers will have certainty about how much they will have to pay and local ratepayers will be able to keep track of contributions and monitor their council's progress of the works program as the money is spent. This will avoid the situation
where money is levied but the promised works take many years or at worst are never built. Section 94 contributions plans will be exhibited and the entire administration of section 94, including the keeping of contributions registers, will be open to public scrutiny at all times. Councils will be required to identify receipt and expenditure of section 94 contributions in their accounts, to prepare separate financial records for the public, and to have them audited. The changes are consistent with the recommendations of the commission of inquiry in that the broad intent of its report required councils to prepare a plan which would be publicly available and justify the contributions being required.
The Hon. J. R. JOHNSON: I ask the acting Leader of the House, having in mind the widespread availability of hard core pornography through outlets frequented by children, will the Government follow the lead of the Goss Labor Government of Queensland in restricting the sale of that obnoxious material? Does the Government agree that pornography, inter alia, denigrates women? If so, when will the Government change the law to help overcome that denigration?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I am sure all honourable members of the House have sympathy with the views expressed in the question. I shall endeavour to provide an answer in the near future.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: I ask the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, representing the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Attorney General, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Arts, a question without notice. Is there widespread community opposition to the so-called nude bathing beaches in Sydney that were declared by former Premier Wran by special decree? What is the Government's timetable for revoking the declaration of nude beaches and restoring them for the use of all New South Wales citizens, especially family groups, and the reintroduction of the offence of indecent exposure?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I shall refer the question to the Premier and the Attorney General and seek an answer.
The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE: I ask a question without notice of the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs. Does the Department of School Education propose to produce a schools spectacular this year?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I suspect that the Hon. Patricia Forsythe is but one of many members of the Parliament who for many years have had the joy of attending a schools spectacular concert. Several inquiries have been made of me as to whether a concert will be held this year and whether complimentary tickets will again be available for all members of Parliament. I am delighted to inform all honourable members that they should soon receive a letter enclosing two complimentary tickets for either of the nights of 28th and 29th November, on which concerts will be held at the Entertainment Centre. If members wish to attend, I would be grateful if they would inform my office as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made to ensure that a suitable size VIP area is set aside for members to enjoy the concert and that members are welcomed to the concert by departmental officers. The spectaculars have become part of a great tradition in the Department of School Education.
The format may vary this year, but normally there are about 16 acts, with a 15-minute intermission. Student acts are chosen from schools throughout New South Wales and brought together in what is an aptly described concert, because it truly is spectacular. Who among those who attended last year could forget the finale, with approximately 2,500 children in a professional and moving production? The concert will be held on two nights. However, such was the interest in the concert last year that up until 7 o'clock on the second night my office received telephone calls from honourable members asking for tickets. Unfortunately, the answer was that we had a full house. I would not like my colleagues to be disappointed, and I urge all honourable members to join me in what is truly a great celebration of public education in New South Wales.
EASTERN CREEK RACEWAY FUNDING
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I ask the acting Leader of the Government a question without notice. Will the Government give an absolute assurance that taxpayers' funds will not be used to finance or financially guarantee future events at Eastern Creek?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: The Premier has answered that question in the other House. The answer the Premier gave is the same answer that I would give.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR GIRLS
The Hon. Dr MARLENE GOLDSMITH: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs who has a great interest in women's affairs. Given the increased number of girls staying on to year 12 and to this year's higher school certificate, will the Minister inform the House what is being done by the Government to further enhance educational opportunities for girls?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: The question of the honourable member outlines two particular interests of hers; namely, equal opportunity issues for girls and women, and education. Last week I informed the House that this year will have the highest number ever of girls sitting for the higher school certificate. We have a majority of girls sitting for the HSC. Given that, from memory, females make up approximately 52 per cent of the Australian population, we are correct in saying that this year 52 per cent of students sitting for the HSC will be female, with many of them doing non-traditional subjects such as mathematics and science. I concede that one cannot rest on one's laurels. Much more needs to be done for girls, in particular those girls who have what is often called a double disadvantage. We will continue to place a very high priority on improving the educational opportunities for young girls in our community. In 1991-92 in the order of $200,000 is being spent on our girls' education strategy which these days is the key responsibility of school regions. However there are statewide objectives to this strategy. For 1991-92 its key objectives are increasing participation in years 10, 11 and 12 in scientific and technology-related subjects, to expand career choices made by girls on leaving school at years 10,11 or 12, and to provide a supportive and challenging learning environment for all girls from kindergarten through to year 12.
Girls technology expos, which been very successful, have been conducted and will continue to be conducted. These are used to further the professional development of teachers in relation to girls education strategy. We anticipate that a number of expos will also be held in 1992. We expect these to find matching support from the corporate sector. I have been pleased to see the innovative initiatives emerging from our regions. It is planned for 1991-92 that in metropolitan east, educational needs of Aboriginal girls in urban communities will be investigated - also, developing girls as leaders in computer education. Our North Coast region is looking to develop a parent package to complement the strategy. In the western region we are collaborating with the Charles Sturt University in a research project focused on developing girls' and women's leadership skills. In addition this region has produced a professional development kit entitled "Girls into the 90s" which provides valuable material on curriculum issues and teaching methodology, with particular emphasis on those areas considered to be non-traditional areas for girls - mathematics, science and technology-related subjects.
The western region has established also a collegial group in each cluster to enhance women's career opportunities within the education and training sector. On the statewide level 73 schools are involved in a program called "Encourage Girls Into Technology". We are working with the Department of Technical and Further Education in a careers education project, contributing to the implementation of the New South Wales women, employment and training strategy. We hope that a key initiative for the next 12 months will be the development of a resource to assist schools in the use of educational indicators for girls education. The development of this resource is supported by the provision of relief days to enable teachers and managers to examine the key outcomes for girls from their schooling. While the responsibility for the implementation of the strategy rests with regions, given that a
question was asked on this matter some time ago, honourable members will be pleased to know that a senior educational officer is employed at central office to oversee the matter. That job involves the development of statewide policy and to monitor and evaluate the programs under way. I thank the honourable member for her question. Positive action is being taken to enhance the opportunity for girls in our education system.
HUMAN TISSUE DONORS
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Will the Minister confirm that self-declared male homosexuals and intravenous drug users are excluded as donors under the Human Tissue Act 1983? Is it not a fact that many people can elect to be organ donors and have their wishes entered on their driver's licence? Why are there no health checks applied to potential donors of organs by this method? Will the Minister amend the relevant regulations in a way that tightens health standards but does not discriminate against the gay and lesbian community and does not preclude them from participating in donor programs only on the grounds of sexual orientation?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I shall have to look in some detail at the questions raised. If I have understood correctly what the honourable member is suggesting - and I stand to be corrected subsequently if I have not - the Human Tissues Act excludes donations from the high-risk groups outlined by the honourable member. Provision is made for people to indicate their willingness to donate organs when filling out their licence application. I am one of those who has done that. I am not sure whether the provisions of the Human Tissue Act have been implemented under the regulations. I shall have a look at that matter. If the honourable member is suggesting that other checks are not done by the hospitals before donated organs are used, that would surprise and concern me. I shall make certain that aspect is clarified as quickly as possible. It is an issue of concern to honourable members and one that should be clarified immediately so that the community is not unduly alarmed.
ELECTRICITY COMMISSION PERT
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy. Is he aware of recent advertisements in the national press through which Victoria's Labor Government is seeking to sell 40 per cent of its Loy Yang "B" Power Station? Is the New South Wales Government contemplating any similar moves to reduce debt accrued by the Electricity Commission of New South Wales?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Personally I question the need for Victorians to build this new power station at this time, when they could be buying New South
Wales electricity at a fair and competitive price. I should say that the two utilities bear no comparison in that regard. The Electricity Commission of New South Wales is making strong and steady progress in reducing the debt accrued over the years in this naturally capital-intensive industry. In fact, commission debt has been reduced by more than $1,000 million over the past two years, a reduction of 20 per cent in the debt of three years ago. Repayments overseas of more than $200 million have cut the commission's overseas debt by almost 20 per cent. These figures reflect the Electricity Commission's improving economic performance.
In other words the Electricity Commission has taken the hard decisions. It has worked hard to concentrate on its core business; it has closed the hangover of uneconomic plant; and it has taken the tough decisions on reducing staff. Everyone in New South Wales is beginning to enjoy the fruit of these hard-won efficiency and productivity gains. To top it all off the Electricity Commission is returning a bigger dividend on the capital we the taxpayers have invested in it. I believe that when the Electricity Commission's final results for the year are declared it will return a record dividend for the Government and the taxpayers. Not only will it be a record for the Electricity Commission, surpassing the $160 million dividend in 1989-90, but it will be one of the biggest dividends yet returned by a State Government business enterprise. The answer to the second part of honourable member's question is no.
ABORIGINES IN CUSTODY
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: I ask my question without notice of the Minister for Health and Community Services, representing the Minister for Justice. Has the Minister seen the recently released figures that show a dramatic increase in the number of Aborigines in custody in New South Wales? Is he aware that Aborigines now make up 9.3 per cent of the New South Wales prison population, although forming 2 per cent of the general population? What is the Government doing to address the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, to tackle what is clearly institutionalised racism?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: The honourable member has asked an important question. All honourable members and the community are concerned about the disproportionate representation of Aborigines in the State's prisons and the reasons for it. Because of the importance of the question a detailed and considered answer should be provided. I shall get that and provide it to the honourable member as soon as possible.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: I ask the acting Leader of the House, the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy, whether it is a fact that the
Australian Police Ministers Conference has recommended a gun control policy for the
Premiers Conference, according to the announcement today by Senator Tate? Has the Australian Police Ministers Conference endorsed in the main the recommendations of the historic New South Wales parliamentary all party committee on gun control?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I am aware of what happened at the conference only from what I have read in the newspapers. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services is still attending the conference. It would seem that the information contained in the honourable member's question is correct. I am sure that the Minister will inform all honourable members of the actual position when he returns next week.
HOME AND COMMUNITY CARE PROGRAM
The Hon. S. B. MUTCH: I address my question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Will the Minister inform the house whether the home and community care program has achieved geographic coverage of New South Wales for all major service types?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: Members are familiar with the home and community care program and are aware of its importance. All honourable members know that this is a joint State and Federal program designed to prevent the premature and inappropriate institutionalisation of frail aged and young people with disabilities. The program involves the provision of 12 different service types. Those services are based on the needs within a particular area. The needs-based planning enables the ageing and young people with disabilities to maintain independent lifestyles within the community, ensuring that they are not confined to institutions, as has happened in the past. Services offered under the HACC program range from community transport to home maintenance and modification, Meals on Wheels and community nursing. All of the 12 services offered under the program go towards assisting in the independent living of all members of society.
It is expected that at the end of funding round six of the program it will have achieved complete geographic coverage of all major service types. That means that all high priority HACC clients should have access to one of each type of service in their local catchment area. Funding under the HACC program increased in 1990-91 to $168.8 million. That is an increase of $21.1 million over expenditure for 1989-90 and $58.1 million more than funding in the last year of the former Labor Government. All honourable members, especially those opposites should note those figures. Geographic coverage of New South Wales by home and community care services is a major step in ensuring that premature and inappropriate institutionalisation of the ageing and young people with disabilities does not occur. As we now have geographic coverage of these 12 programs, at least persons in acute need have access to the services. Now that those services, at least in their primal
state, are available across the State, we are able to give consideration to expanding services as funds become available.
GLENFIELD PARK SPECIAL SCHOOL
The Hon. DOROTHY ISAKSEN: Will the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs inform the House why the Glenfield Park Special School is refusing to accept more boarders when there are apparently vacancies? Is the school reducing its intake or are there plans to have the school closed?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I assure the honourable member that the variety of services available at Glenfield Park Special School will continue. It is not intended that any aspect of the complex be abandoned. A move is in train to scale down the fairly large boarding and residential institutional component of Glenfield Park. That is in line with the policy which I believe has bipartisan support of moving away from institutionalisation. A number of families and children have come to rely heavily on the use of that boarding accommodation component of Glenfield Park. It is for that reason that a boarding component will continue, to keep faith with and assist the families involved. From memory a residential component will be retained for about 42 children at Glenfield Park. I have no hesitation in telling the House that it was a difficult decision for me to balance my personal views about the desirability of maintaining a residential institutional setting for children, many of whom have intellectual disabilities and or are emotionally disturbed. It is not something that sits altogether comfortably with me.
I was conscious of the large number of representations that had been made and the high level of concerns and anxiety. Therefore I have maintained a residential component. My understanding is that the excellent assistant director general and his team in the southwest region will be developing more home-like cottage aspects. I know that Alan Laughlan, the assistant director general, is keen to develop a parents support and link program as well as day attendance. It is hoped that the small scale, more non-institutional model can be adopted throughout New South Wales to assist children in this special category. I should be astonished if the Hon. Dorothy Isaksen thought that the soundest policy in terms of the needs of young persons in a statewide service for children who are disturbed or disabled was for them to be so far away from homes and families. I assure the honourable member that if the number of children involved is not 42, I shall let her know. Given her interest in this subject, if she would like any further detail about Glenfield Park and the proposals for its future, my office will be delighted to provide it.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I suggest that if honourable members have further questions, they place them on the notice paper.
Motion by the Hon. R. J. Webster agreed to:
That this House at its rising today do adjourn until Tuesday next.
[The President left the chair at 1.2 p.m. The House resumed at 2.32 p.m.]
GAY AND LESBIAN MARDI GRAS
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [2.32]: I continue to speak on the report titled "Extreme Prejudice", which appeared in the Good Weekend, a supplement to the Sydney Morning Herald, on what it calls the gay bashing season. The article continues:
Deep in the pit of Timmins' stomach, a muscle tightens. He knew what was going to happen, and grabbed Brown's arm. "Come on, let's go!"
He did not move quickly enough. The young thug delivered a swift, practised kick to Timmins' groin. Timmins fell in sudden pain on to the roadway. The two men and another two or three, previously unseen, now turned their attack on Brown. His glasses were broken and shards of glass driven into his face. He was bleeding freely, the right side of his body covered in blood.
Timmins stood up but was again felled with a hard kick to the groin. The pain was so enveloping that he became semi-conscious. He would later spend four days in hospital with broken fingers, cuts and deep bruising. Semi-conscious and in shock, he saw the assailant and girl ambling away in the direction of Kings Cross. Timmins followed. He stopped a taxi to ask for help but the man drove off. He hailed a second cab, and jumped into the passenger seat. "I've been bashed," he told the driver. "They're over there. Call the police." The driver told him to get out of the taxi. Timmins ignored him. "I've been bashed. Call the police, please." Instead, the driver hit his emergency button to summon help - for himself - and left the taxi, taking his keys with him. Almost immediately, half a dozen other cabs drew up and surrounded them. Timmins kept shouting "Call the police!" but the driver stared at him and did nothing.
So he followed his bashers. They were still walking casually towards Kings Cross, past St Vincent's Hospital. Timmins walked into the casualty department and asked the desk clerk to call the police. She refused.
"No, I want the police. I've been bashed, and they're just outside."
"If you want to call the police, there's the public phone over there."
As he stood at the telephone, a burly hospital security guard appeared next to him. Timmins got the message and left. Outside the assailant and the girl were still in sight. Soon they were in the middle of Kings Cross and Timmins went into the police station nearby. Two young policemen were on duty. "I've been bashed," he said. "The people who did it are in the fruit shop down the road".
"Have you been at the Albury [a gay pub in Paddington]?" one of the policemen said, his feet still on the desk. "They'll be gone by the time we get there. You: go and sit over there."
The police offered him no assistance and no word of concern. A foot patrol finally went to the fruit shop but the bashers had gone. Timmins found his own way home and saw his own doctor the next day. Four days later, he was released from Sydney Hospital, his broken hand in plaster.
There are a number of reports similar to that. For example, Bruce Shepherd was confronted with the same problem but was able to take care of those who were going to attack him. The article continues:
Bruce Shepherd is a big man. He has been a bodyguard, and was once station sergeant at Sydney's Darlinghurst and Kings Cross police stations. After leaving the force, he decided to acknowledge his homosexuality.
One evening last August, walking past the Midnight Shift, a gay dance bar in Darlinghurst, he was confronted by four slightly built teenagers. They wore new tracksuits and expensive running shoes. "Do you know where there's any poofters?" they asked. "We're looking to kill one."
For a moment, he thought they were joking. "Look no further," he answered. They tried to bash him - two from the front, two from behind - but they quickly hit the ground. More than a dozen gay men heard the disturbance and laid into the youths. Shepherd, the intended victim, had to intervene to prevent serious injury.
He believed the drubbing they had just received did not reflect well on the gay community. A little later, he talked to the bruised youths, one of whom had been stabbed in the leg during another fight earlier in the night.
"We haven't got any money to get home," the boys complained. The gay ex-cop gave them $20 and hailed a cab. He told the driver to take the injured boy to Sydney Hospital and the others to their home in Greenwich on Sydney's affluent lower North Shore.
The report continues:
Most gay men who have lived in Surry Hills or Darlinghurst for more than a year have been bashed at least once. But no one knows the dimensions of the violence. Reports are not centrally compiled. Police are not allowed to ask: "Are you gay?"
The murder rate is more revealing. The deaths of men who are killed specifically for being gay amount to between 5 and 10 per cent of all New South Wales murders. In the 10 months to October, at least six murders were identified as gay-related.
Then the report makes a comparison between Sydney and other cities. The point I make is that there is no comparison with other cities - with Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and, to an extent, Melbourne. For that reason, I present the case in this motion that there is a direct association between the provocation of a homosexual-lesbian mardi gras parade and what appears to be a backlash in the form of violent attacks. If the mardi gras parade was not held, obviously, there would still be homosexual activity but it would not be as prominent. Then the assaults on homosexuals would decrease. We would not be able to prove that until the mardi gras parade was stopped. In other cities we do not see anything like the level of homosexual bashings. Dr Paul Wilson of the Australian Institute of Criminology has been studying this matter for many years. He has written a report entitled "The Night Stalkers" in which he has put together a great deal of information. Speaking of one of these young hoodlums he said:
This boy was only 14 years but looked older . . . His clothes smacked of Double Bay or Toorak, rather than his bleak neighbourhood in Sydney's western suburbs.
His name was Alan and the night before I met him he had tried to kick a man to death. "Me foot got him in the balls," he told me, "and he fell on the footpath. Then I put me boot in his mouth and heard his teeth crack. I wanted him to bleed, so I kicked him again until some vomit and blood came out of his mouth."
I asked Alan what his mates were doing while this was going on. "One of them was kicking the guy in the knees," he told me. "Me other mate was standing around laughing and telling us to kill the poofter." . . .
"I hate the queers. I think they should all be killed."
Dr Wilson said:
Alan is typical of hundreds of teenaged youths who are roaming the cities of Australia, bashing and murdering homosexual men and, occasionally, gay women. In Sydney, police estimate that packs of adolescents, up to 15-strong are responsible for about 30 attacks each week.
There seems to be no comparison between the level of assaults in Sydney and the level of assaults in other cities in Australia. Dr Wilson examined a number of reports in collating his report. I have made the point that these attacks are occurring and I am sure other honourable members will refer to this issue. Dr Wilson said:
Though in Australia no national statistics are kept, homosexual leaders are convinced that similar attacks against Aussie gays have reached record proportions. No-one is sure exactly why such attacks are growing. One common theory is that AIDS - the most feared disease of the nineties - is blamed on homosexual promiscuity.
Others disagree. After all, there are victims of AIDS in all States and in all cities in Australia. I do not believe the reason for the attacks is that we have AIDS and therefore we have the bashings. The same level of assault is not experienced in other cities. A report published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10th November, 1990, was headed, "Youth gets 10 years for public toilet bash killing". The report stated:
One of eight teenagers who bashed a homosexual to death in a public toilet had joined in the attack because the victim was "like an enemy", the Supreme Court heard yesterday.
The 17-year old New Zealand boy, who cannot be identified because he was underage, was on parole when he became part of the juvenile gang that lured Richard Johnson, 33, to a toilet block in Park Street, Alexandria, on January 24th this year.
It would be simplistic to say that all the assaults and murders of homosexuals are committed by heterosexuals. Some reports have indicated that people in the homosexual community may be involved in some assaults. I am not referring to the gang bashings in general but in particular to the murder of Ludwig Gertsch whose death was reported in the newspapers in late 1990. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14th November, 1990, that Mr Gertsch, a former hairdresser who was left $8 million after his homosexual lover died, was strangled with an octopus strap. The suggestion was that he may have been murdered by someone in the homosexual community who wanted his wealth. Not every murder or assault is part of the anti-homosexual feeling, but obviously the majority of them are carried out by people who strongly reject homosexuals and their lifestyle. A report in the Illawarra Mercury on 27th June, 1990, said:
A Berkeley man will stand trial on 29 charges relating to a series of violent homosexual assaults during a three-year period.
Mark Anthony Scerri, 25, labourer, is charged with homosexual rapes, other sexual assaults, kidnaps, attempted murder and thefts in the Wollongong, Nowra and Jindabyne areas.
The charges relate to a 3½-year reign of terror over the Wollongong gay community from March 1986 to September 1989.
Another report in the Sun-Herald on 10th June, 1990, referred to the murder of schoolteacher, Wayne Tonks. The report stated:
Murdered Sydney schoolteacher Wayne Tonks may have been the latest victim in a series of homosexual killings.
Tonks, 35, was found suffocated in his small flat in Hampden Street, Artarmon, on May 21.
His hands and legs had been bound with masking tape and a plastic bag put over his head.
Police revealed yesterday they have shifted their investigations to Sydney's gay community.
In that case there was some thought that he had been murdered by another homosexual. Another report of a gay bashing gang appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 12th March 1990. The report referred to a man called Tony and stated:
Tony is angry, very angry. He was found unconscious after being attacked in Burton Street, Darlinghurst, recently.
He did not see who did it, but was left with a black eye, cuts, and a fractured cheek bone.
Tony, 30, is one of a growing number of gay men and women who are being bashed by gangs, some with children as young as 10 . . .
"Twenty of my friends have been bashed in the past year. One had to have his teeth sewn back into his mouth." . . .
The Minister for Police, Mr Pickering, has agreed to launch a report on gay violence called "Streetwatch", by the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, within a fortnight.
The report, compiled after 67 people responded to gay newspaper and radio appeals, shows 90 per cent of attacks are by men under 25 in gangs up to 15-strong.
The majority occur around Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, and King Street in Newtown, where there are prominent gay bars. Eighty per cent of victims, whose average age is 32, suffer head injuries, while more than 50 per cent have limbs broken or other serious injuries.
Another report in the Sun-Herald on 4th March, 1990, was headed "Teenagers go on the prowl to bash gays". The report stated:
Gangs of teenage youths are prowling inner Sydney streets at night bashing homosexual men and lesbians.
Gay activists say the packs - of up to 15 youths - are responsible for 30 attacks each week.
A series of vicious attacks has left many gays battered or unconscious and, in at least two cases, dead.
It is noted in that article that not all attacks are reported and it is estimated that only 42 per cent of those attacked report the incidents to the authorities. It could be that double the number of reported assaults are occurring. We know that many victims of rapes and other attacks do not wish to report the incidents because they do not wish to be questioned in court about their lifestyles and are reluctant to become involved with the police. The same situation is occurring with men who are bashed who do not wish to be involved in court cases or police action. Perhaps they believe that nothing would come from reporting an incident. Perhaps they have been
disappointed with the attitude taken by authorities to previous complaints. So there have been a number of reports. This is not any real comparison with other cities. I believe it is important for us to do something. We could start by prohibiting the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras. On 14th April the Sun-Herald reported:
Sydney's gay heartland is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of violent murders and bashings. Teenage gangs, straight from the nightmare world of A Clockwork Orange, are terrorising the yuppie eastern and inner-city suburbs. Police, residents and gay groups are mobilising against further mayhem.
I am sure all honourable members have seen photographs of those people who have been murdered in recent times. We must prohibit by whatever means the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras. I know that this is a controversial issue. The Government has backed off from making necessary decisions. I believe a decision has to be made in this regard. I am not trying to tell the Government how to implement policy; my motion refers simply to the need for a policy decision. The Government will have to give thought to the way in which this is done. It could enact legislation similar to the offensive behaviour legislation or the summary offences legislation. I have written letters to the New South Wales Police Service and to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services about previous mardi gras parades. Under previous legislation people wishing to arrange a parade had to receive approval from the Commissioner of Police. When Frank Walker was Attorney General in the other place the Summary Offences Act was amended. At present people need only advise the Commissioner of Police of such an event. The Commissioner of Police does not need to approve anything. His view is that if the police have no objection to a march it should go ahead. If he objects to such a march, other steps would have to be taken. I assume that could involve the commissioner requesting a court order to prevent such an event.
Police have a discretion. They would not permit such an event if they believed it would lead to violence or problems within the community. My motion is really a statement of principle that the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras be prohibited. The Government, through the Attorney General's department and the New South Wales Police Service, should work out the best way of doing this. It would have to involve discussions with the homosexual community and with the organisers of the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras. The police should not be placed in a position where they permit such an event and, thereafter, have to try to prevent it. That would not be desirable. It would only accentuate the problem we are talking about and it would lead to even stronger feelings against the homosexual community. The organisers would have to have discussions with the Government to determine whether this event should continue to be held at the showground. That part of the activity could continue and it should not involve either the Government or the police. The only matter to be determined is whether there should be a public parade on Elizabeth Street and Oxford Street. I trust all honourable members will give serious consideration to this motion. The motion has been brought forward for discussion sooner than was expected but it is an issue about which all honourable
members - those in favour of the mardi gras and those who share my concerns - have been thinking for many years. Even though honourable members have not had much notice of this motion I am sure they have given it some thought and have formed an opinion about it. It should be possible for all honourable members to debate this motion and vote on it. I am happy to accept the decision of the House.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY [2.56]: This is a fairly straightforward issue - an issue about freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration - which can be dealt with easily and quickly. The motion seeks to curb people's right to take part in a peaceful demonstration. Of course, this caused great controversy in Queensland when the former National Party Government banned street marches. I believe that all members of Parliament are mature enough to deal quickly with this issue. I remind honourable members that in 1991, 235,000 people watched the parade which commenced on Oxford Street and proceeded to the showground. Those 235,000 people would represent a broad cross-section of the community. In 1992 it is expected that approximately 250,000 people will view the parade. In 1989 about $9.2 million was brought into Australia by overseas visitors. This figure does not reflect any interstate travel. It is interesting to note that the former Commissioner of Police, Mr John Avery, said:
Police and organisers now have extensive experience of working together to achieve a peaceful and safe position.
I urge all honourable members to vote against this motion. We are living in an age where society believes in freedom of expression.
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT [2.58]: This afternoon the Hon. P. F. O'Grady touched on the core of this debate - the rights and freedoms of individuals in our society. The National Party and I believe that those rights and freedoms are a matter of fine judgment. Perhaps they are best defined in these words, "One man's rights end where another man's rights begin". We should not be judgmental about the behaviour of certain individuals in our community. We need to take into account the rights of those individuals who wish to take part in the gay and lesbian mardi gras, but we need also to take into account the rights of those who have been offended by what they see. Today Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile referred to a serious matter - the danger to which members of the gay and lesbian community are exposed by participating in the mardi gras.
I should like to explain my personal views on this sensitive matter, which I believe would fairly represent those of many of my colleagues in this House and among the wider community of the National Party and country people generally. It is well known and often used to misrepresent the National Party that a decade or so ago when the Government of the day introduced legislation to decriminalise homosexual acts, the National Party parliamentary members voted as one against the changes. From my point of view that was not because of any lack of sympathy or understanding for those with homosexual proclivities. Rather, it was very much akin
to another debate in this House, not yet concluded, the key to which is whether with regard to legislation one should be pro-active or allow what had been a long-term and traditional expression of morality to remain as a statute which was not policed or pursued actively by the police. In that way society was allowed to reach its own solutions without the interference and the imposition of a policing authority, with its overtones of oppression and suppression.
It is obvious that National Party members and country people generally are as aware as others of the long-standing condition of homosexuality. We do not particularly believe that any moral view on the issue is the exclusive domain of the National Party or that country people have a better view than anyone else. In these days a new landmark has been established in the liberal approach to people whose views perhaps are different from those of the greater majority of society. There was a period when there was some justification for political activity to try to gain recognition for a group that had suffered injustice at the hands of their fellow citizens and also perhaps for seeking for this group a reconciliation within the community. We have passed through that stage and I do not believe there is now any justification for carrying placards and impugning the views and perspectives of other people or for confronting people with the existence of homosexuality or the right to pursue a homosexual lifestyle free from suppression or victimisation. That time has passed.
There is today a wide spectrum of opinion. There are those who would disagree wholeheartedly with my remarks, and believe there is still a barricade to be manned, a frontier to be defended. Sadly, as Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile will acknowledge, during the committee inquiry into medically acquired AIDS we witnessed the expression of suppressed frustration by a group of people who completely misdirected their political activity in their attempt to confront members of the committee and one individual in particular. We all deplore that activity, but it is true to say - this is the point I seek to make - that a narrow band of people at the extreme end of the spectrum believe that such activity is justified because of the way in which they perceive the rest of the community views them.
A matter of equal or even greater concern is that at the far end of the spectrum there are those who have been unable to come to any reconciliation of their hostility towards people with homosexual tendencies. We have to thank Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile for the very detailed way in which he has brought to the notice of the House the very sad violence that has attached to confrontation of homosexuals by that end of the spectrum. No one could or should try to justify violence of any sort, particularly when it reaches the degree and extent that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile outlined. Sadly, it was probably no news to honourable members, though it was a sober and perhaps macabre reminder of just how twisted some people become in trying to put across their point of view. I am sure that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile would join with me in saying that people who perpetrate violence on people whom they identify as homosexual do not try to proclaim any moral stand. They merely surrender themselves to their basic lusts and instincts to victimise and inflict pain and suffering on other people. That group of people in our society
should be pursued with the full force of the law. That sort of behaviour, provoked or instigated by whatever cause, should be eliminated ruthlessly from our society. This matter is of concern to me and I will be interested to see whether there is reference to it in future.
I was interested to hear Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile refer to occasions when it was alleged that police acted less than vigorously in inquiring into offences and apprehending the perpetrators; and may not have rendered common, humane assistance and comfort to the victims. I should have thought that police officers had an obligation as human beings, as well as their more prescribed duty as police officers, to assist people who had been set upon in this thoroughly disgraceful way. Having said that, it is important to say that the vast majority of Australians believe that the gay mardi gras has gone completely over the top. Another speaker in the debate said that in some way the continuation of the gay mardi gras and the defeat of this motion should be advocated on the basis that many people join in as spectators and perhaps encourage those participating in the parade. That is not a compelling argument. Many of the people who witness the parade are attracted to attend on the day because they see it as a controversial and colourful issue.
The Hon. Ann Symonds: Has the Hon. D. F. Moppett seen a gay mardi gras?
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: Many people who have not witnessed the parade directly are certainly familiar with it through widespread television coverage.
The Hon. Ann Symonds: Is that the honourable member's experience of it?
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: Yes, I concede that.
The Hon. Ann Symonds: That was simply a question; not a judgment. I have not seen one either. It is interesting to know the basis upon which members comment.
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: I concede that I have not witnessed a mardi gras direct. However, that in no way diminishes one's capacity to contribute to the debate. Though I do not believe it to be a matter necessary to place on record, I do not propose to join the Hon. Ann Symonds as a spectator.
The Hon. Ann Symonds: I had not invited the honourable member.
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: The point I was making really did not depend on whether one was a witness. I was asserting that the vast majority would find the mardi gras distasteful. Many would feel that some elements, though not by far the majority, were confrontationist in their approach to the views and sensibilities of the vast majority of the community. Rather than quietly demonstrating a way of life which is peaceful and in accord with general community standards, the accent, at
least in certain floats and of people who participate in the mardi gras, is on flaunting the sexual activities that are their proclivity. More than that, they attempt to make almost an example of lasciviousness and hedonism in our society. This is sad from the point of view of those who wish to promote a wider understanding of the difficulties they have experienced in society.
Committee members on the medically-acquired AIDS inquiry heard much of the stigma attached to certain people. People who were not homosexual and had acquired AIDS saw a stigma attached to them because it might be presumed that they were homosexual. Also, many more genuine people within the gay community with an understanding of the medically-acquired AIDS groups, recognised the problem that exists in our society. Government members believe in that many ways we as individuals, ought to be examining our consciences. We need to ensure that we are not adding to the burden of human suffering by some act of judgmental retribution. I have made that point abundantly clear. We do not wish to circumscribe the rights of gay people. We believe the more general community mores would suggest they could campaign in a much more acceptable way which conforms with community standards.
I am in general sympathy with the views expressed by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile, which fall into two categories - the affront that is caused to the rest of society by this bacchanalian feast that goes on in our streets and the argument that this is creating a danger to people in the homosexual community. Despite that, I am not persuaded that any machinery is available to the Government to prohibit the mardi gras; I am not convinced of that. If machinery were available, I believe it would be unwise for the Government at this stage to implement it. Inevitably what happens is that there is a backlash; people become martyrs. Police have to follow instructions if there is a defiance of the Government's attempt to prohibit the march. It was interesting that the Hon. P. F. O'Grady mentioned Queensland. Honourable members have experienced what occurs when a government is attempting to be too rigid in regulating what people think and determining moral values and they are aware of the difficulties of enforcement.
I am not persuaded and I do not think the National Party generally would be persuaded that the Government ought to proceed to prohibit the gay and lesbian mardi gras. We certainly would advocate negotiations and liaison through various community groups to try to persuade the organisers that they can enjoy a day of identification and fellowship between themselves, without being so confrontationist. In my view that behaviour deliberately sets out to challenge and offend the views of many people. This is an important issue and one many of us will continue to think about and cogitate over long after debate has concluded. Perhaps church groups have some role to play in this. I have observed within many orthodox church organisations a similar spectrum of opinion to that which I have alluded to as being typical of the National Party and country people generally. This ranges from those who are openly hostile and advocate very strong measures, to those who work as pastors to this group. Honourable members can admire those people. I urge
community groups to endeavour to negotiate rather than to adopt a front-line position. I agree with Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile that the gay mardi gras is no longer a positive force in our community, it is has become a negative force. Church groups are the people with credibility within the homosexual community. Also, other community welfare organisations should be the vanguard in trying to persuade these people, at the very minimum, to moderate the nature of the mardi gras. The time has long passed when there is justification or need for this annual event in the streets of Sydney.
The Hon. ELAINE NILE [3.18]: I support the motion moved by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile which states:
That this House calls on the Government to prohibit any future Homosexual and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parades on the public streets of New South Wales in view of the AIDS epidemic and the provocation of assaults on homosexuals.
Unlike the Hon. D. F. Moppett I have witnessed several homosexual mardi gras parades on the streets of Sydney. People do not see on the television what I and other members of churches have witnessed during the gay mardi gras parades, because that type of offensive behaviour is not permitted to be televised. When former Premier Neville Wran introduced his private member's bill to repeal sections 79 to 81B of the Crimes Act, which described the abominable crime of buggery and sodomy and its penalties, the whole of the National Party, under the leadership of Leon Punch, walked out of the Chamber. They said they would not dignify the debate by remaining. Those members abstained by walking out as a block. I have used the following quotation a number of times because it deals with what is happening in this State, and I believe in this Chamber. The late Professor Blaiklock, a classical historian, said:
Permissiveness is that state of the spirit in which that which once caused shame and revulsion is first tolerated, then accepted, and finally embraced.
Many people, including some members of this House, in the belief that we must be tolerant, consider that they must accept anything that happens. That attitude is pervading today's society. I should like to quote from the Sydney Star Observer an article written by homosexuals about the mardi gras:
Mardi gras: stand up for your love rights! "Stand up for your love rights - do it, do it, do it . . . " was an inspired climax to a Mardi Gras whose political point was sharper than in previous years.
The article continued:
The night was, however, soured by numerous reports of violent incidents during and after the parade.
The mardi gras is a provocative march which deeply offends normal heterosexual family people. Reference has been made to understanding the minds of those who take part in the mardi gras. Honourable members should consider the following quotation. Though there are no four letter words in the article, it is not my type of language but it is important for honourable members to listen to this quotation to assist them in understanding the motivation for the mardi gras. Would we have a heterosexual march along the streets of Sydney? The article states:
The gay and lesbian mardi gras was, in 1989, what it started out to be in 1978 - a mind-blowing chaos of colour and imagination and excitement that defies all homophobic hatred and denial.
The mardi gras causes homosexual men to hate anyone who does not agree with their lifestyle. This quotation was taken from their own paper:
This is a parade that sticks out its tongue and its tits and dicks and dares the bigoted straight world to tell us we don't have something to contribute.
Talk about knowing the minds of people! The person who wrote that article in the Sydney Star Observer did so after the 1989 parade. Everyone has rights, but as the Hon. D. F. Moppett said, those rights no longer exist when they interfere with the rights of others. I support the motion because the march is a health risk. Two years ago rain fell down in buckets during the march. A group of about 100 Christians had a prayer chain as the parade passed by. We were not offensive, we did not speak to those taking part or shout at them or abuse them. We did nothing. A contingent of men who had AIDS marched in white shorts and singlets and carried white umbrellas. Anyone with a brain would know that people with AIDS should not parade in the rain and put themselves at risk of catching pneumonia. Those who take part in the parade seem to be saying: "I am here, I want to be heard, I want to be seen and I want my rights". A member of my family took part in the death march in the Second World War. When I looked at those taking part in the parade I thought it was a death march. Most of the men taking part would have had AIDS, and, if they survive today still have AIDS. For the sake of their own health they should not have been marching in those conditions. Emotionally the march would have drained them. In America the first 26 AIDS cases discovered were all homosexual men. The doctors called it GRID - Gay Related Immune Deficiency. They termed it the gay disease. Those who gave it that name were not Christians or clergy, but doctors who were investigating the disease in 1981.
The Hon. R. T. M. Bull: It is a homosexual disease.
The Hon. ELAINE NILE: That is right. As my leader said today, the first heterosexual to contract AIDS was a Catholic sister who had suffered a broken leg and had to have a transfusion. That was in 1981. I feel very much for these people who must suffer all the matters to which reference has been made in this debate. I would hate to have a heart transplant from any of those boys, because it would be
a heart of stone and not of flesh. Honourable members should be made aware why people behave in this way. The latest official figures on AIDS show that more than 54.5 per cent of cases occur in the Eastern Sydney Area Health Service region and more than 16.5 in the Central Sydney Area Health Service region - a total of 71 per cent of cases occurring in the heart of the homosexual territory. Having the gay mardi gras is almost as irresponsible as taking a group of children through the centre of a smallpox epidemic in India. The parade is blasphemous. I am not ashamed to say that I am a Christian. For Christians there is a right and a wrong. Some Christians are fairly weak in that area, but some family people who are not Christians agree that this activity is wrong. The blasphemy that occurs during the parades is unbelievable. In 1989 some of those participating carried a huge 12 foot idol depicting a pagan god like Baal, with a man's body and the head of an animal. The New Testament book of Romans says:
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
A number of homosexual men dressed as Catholic sisters and calling themselves the sisters of perpetual indulgence took part in the parade. People talk about freedom and rights. Some of these people said that because we have a Christian march each year, wherever we go they will follow us. Sure enough, last year when we went to Canberra to protest about pornography, some of them followed us down there. We have rights, as they do. We acknowledge they have rights, but they should not deny the rights of others. They should not be blasphemous or conduct themselves in an obscene manner. In the 1989 parade a paper-mache head of Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile was carried. Sad to say, the homosexual who created that model died recently from AIDS.
Since 1981 the homosexual community has not wanted to be told about these issues. They believe they are right and will not listen to anyone else. I should mention the spiritual aspect. One incident that was not publicised in the reports of the mardi gras march related to a young woman who was naked from the top down. She had snakes tattooed all over her body and a large coil of rope around her neck. That woman was dragged along in the parade, with her tongue darting in and out. As a woman I found that to be offensive. We have close-up evidence of that. That type of thing is anti-women and offensive. Regrettably, some people take small children to the parade. I wonder what goes through the minds of those children as they watch the parade go through the streets of Sydney. We contacted former police commissioner Avery, who passed the matter on to the Lord Mayor of Sydney and the Premier. Apparently no one has the power to stop this procession, so it continues. It is obscene and indecent.
Some males wore models of huge three-foot penises. That is offensive. Others embraced, kissed and fondled one another in full view of the police. Family groups have seen this behaviour which would normally result in an arrest for
offensive behaviour under our summary offences laws. Somehow, this is allowed to occur. Police have said that, even though they are present at the marches to protect those there, they have to watch themselves all the time because homosexuals say that there is police bashing. Has the Minister for Police and Emergency Services put something into the minds of the police that makes them afraid to take action in a procession of this size? It is anti-family, anti-marriage and anti-women. The whole of the mardi gras is an attack on God's plan of creation. God created Adam and Eve; he did not create Adam and Steve. This parade, with sodomites embracing one another, kissing and cuddling, is a public attack on traditional family life and marriage between a male and a female. The Hon. D. F. Moppett spoke about ministers in the churches ministering to these people. The homosexual community has its own churches with homosexual ministers. The Uniting Church has properties in Paddington at which "holy unions" have been held between two men. These men are married to each other in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: You don't get that in the Catholic Church.
The Hon. ELAINE NILE: There is the Anggay gay group and a Catholic group, but the Catholic Church does not have anything to do with that. There is a lot of confusion in the minds of people. The mardi gras is being portrayed as the largest public promotion of homosexuality in the world. The mardi gras is provocative. It is disturbing that young men are being bashed, but they cannot see the cause of this. In an article on the mardi gras in the Sydney Star Observer, dated 18th October, 1991, written by Paul Somerville and Will Harris, it is said:
The ball is rolling for Sydney to host the fifth Gay Games in 1998.
Already the host to the world's largest annual gay and lesbian festival, Mardi Gras, Sydney would gain true global recognition if it became the site for the 1998 Gay Games.
Pat Phillips, one of the organisers, said:
. . . organisations such as Mardi Gras would play a role in raising funds here for Sydney's bid and further efforts would be made "seeking support" from corporate sponsorship and government bodies.
People we know have gone to the orgy after the mardi gras. They have said that it is disgusting. We talk of concern about the spread of AIDS. We have seen on television men who are dying of AIDS and who have said that they would do it all over again if they had their way. I believe in the right to march and the right to free expression as long as it is not offensive to others or interfering with their rights. As many people in this Chamber know, on 7th October the Christians had a Jesus march. In the same newspaper, the Sydney Star Observer, comment is made on our Christian march:
Present at the march included people who were members of ACT UP, the Gay Solidarity Group, Rights for All Male Sex Workers (RAMS) and the Women's Abortion Action Campaign.
A large number of members of the International Socialists Organisation were present at the march and it is understood that some of the arrestees are members of that organisation.
Such views are a bit lopsided. We are concerned about the bashing of young men because, no matter who or what you are, you are entitled to walk the streets of Sydney. I read to the Chamber a letter written by the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith in 1988 when he was Leader of the National Party in the Legislative Council. Call to Australia, even before we were elected to this Chamber in 1973, has spoken at meetings around the State of New South Wales. Country people, thank God, are more down to earth than many of the so-called sophisticated city people. He said:
Sir: How could anybody seriously link the Gay Mardi Gras march with the really great celebrations that are taking place in this, our Bicentennial year, and say that the march is one of Australia's biggest celebrations (Metro, February 12)?
How could anybody celebrate the fact that some 88 per cent of the AIDS carriers in this community are homosexuals? I am informed that it is estimated that within the next few years, $50 million will be spent on these AIDS victims.
How can anyone celebrate an occasion which highlights and glorifies the homosexual lifestyle and how can anybody classify this pathetic march as one of Australia's biggest celebrations?
It is an appalling condemnation of our society to think that we have to be subjected to this degrading performance and the sooner the authorities, such as the City Commissioners, withhold their approval for such a march the better.
We started this Bicentennial year with a wonderful celebration on Australia Day. Don't let's degrade our 200th birthday by having to put up with performances such as the Gay Mardi Gras march.
We are listening to a minority voice which is very loud. It is sad to see that a lot of notice is being taken of that minority voice. If homosexual men want to see a reduction in offences against homosexual men, the mardi gras will have to stop. A number of homosexual men who do not partake in coming out on the streets have written to the homosexual papers stating this exact thing - that they should not go out on the streets cavorting and exposing their bodies in such a provocative manner. There are two groups within the homosexual movement. I do not know whether we would call one group conservative - those who are happy to live their lives as they want. One homosexual who has now come out of the scene said to me that there is another group which brings much shame. This man is no longer a homosexual. When he had his AIDS test he rang me up and said, "Elaine, I've got great news. I'm free". The motion before the Chamber today is very serious. We hope that all honourable members, but especially country members who have not been in the city
to see what goes on - if anybody wants to see what goes on, I will show them some of the material that people are not allowed to see on television - will vote for the motion. I support the motion of Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile.
The Hon. D. J. GAY [3.37]: I rise to speak on the motion of Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile that this House calls on the Government to prohibit any future homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parades on the streets of New South Wales in view of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome epidemic and the provocation of assaults on homosexuals. In the contribution of the Hon. P. F. O'Grady to the House, he said that the parade should not be prohibited because there is a right of assembly - a right that everyone has. I agree with him. But along with any right, as the Hon. D. F. Moppett said, we have a responsibility. The organisers of this mardi gras have forgotten about the responsibility that they should have. In a community that is ridden with an epidemic that is tragically killing people, they are running a mardi gras that is glorifying promiscuity. To that end, they are being totally irresponsible. No one denies people their rights, but the manner in which this march is being conducted does not bring any glory to them or their movement -
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: And is offensive to others.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: - and is particularly dangerous as far as the health of the people of this State is concerned. As the Hon. J. R. Johnson, Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile and the Hon. Elaine Nile have said, no one has a right to be deliberately offensive to other people. All rights have responsibilities. In speaking on this motion I call on the organisers of this mardi gras to reappraise what they hope to get out of their day. The other matter to which I wish to refer is quite personal. It is the naming of this particular mardi gras. As honourable members know, on numerous occasions in this House I have suggested lightheartedly that the so-called gay movement should not be called the gay movement but rather the homosexual movement. I note that the motion refers to a homosexual and lesbian mardi gras. The name was generated when the homosexual movement had been vilified and had come through a lot of pressure. The movement adopted that name as a form of self-assertiveness. I believe their movement and their acceptance have come of age. However, it is a name that does them no credit to apply to themselves. If they have that confidence, they should have the pride - if that is what they believe - to call themselves homosexuals or lesbians. My family have suffered and I know a lot of other people who bear the surname of Gay have suffered because of the adoption by the homosexual community of that word.
The Hon. Elaine Nile: And Christian names too.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: Yes, I agree.
The Hon. D. F. Moppett: It was a delightful, common adjective.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: Exactly. It is one of the finest descriptive words that we have in the language. It gives a good feeling. The Hon. J. H. Jobling, a noted former rugby player who was obviously a prop, remembers the Gay Gordons. My personal experience relates to my son who came home from school in tears at the age of seven years. I picked him up from the school bus and asked him what was wrong. He said, "Dad, I am not going to die, am I?" I asked him what was wrong. He said, "Well, they showed us the grim reaper ads today and said that the people at greatest risk of dying from AIDS were gays and intravenous drug users". That was a responsible advertisement but the downside was that this little boy, whose surname is Gay, picked up that he was going to die. I had to explain to a seven-year-old the whole procedure of homosexuality. To my mind that took away much of the innocence of youth. One of the treasured possessions of children is the innocence of youth. This particular mardi gras tends to base itself on Carnivale in Rio. I should have thought the organisers would have been more responsible. Instead of this glorification of promiscuity to which this mardi gras has degenerated, the organisers could have held a responsible seminar or conference to address the problems facing the homosexual and lesbian communities.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: Carnivale in Brazil commenced as a religious festival and has turned into a pagan festival.
The Hon. D. J. GAY: It is certainly not a religious festival now. Though I agree with much that has been said by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile, I could not support the motion in its present form. I suggest that when the honourable member speaks later he might consider an amendment, that this House calls on the Government to discourage the homosexual and lesbian mardi gras parade in its current form on the public streets of New South Wales, in view of the AIDS epidemic and the provocation of assaults on homosexuals. So far as I am concerned, the amendment would cover the issues I have raised, that is, that the Government does not have the right to prohibit the parade. It would also have the effect of putting the positive message that people are not happy with this mardi gras continuing in its present form. I am sure that a motion along those lines would be supported by many members of this Chamber who have problems with the concept of prohibiting the parade. Certainly I would support such a motion and, from the tenor of other contributions to this debate, I believe other members would also support it.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [3.47]: It would be quite obvious to all members of this House that I do not support the motion moved by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile. I have presented many petitions to this Chamber from people who believe that the gay and lesbian mardi gras should not be prevented. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile and the Hon. Elaine Nile have presented other petitions calling for the abandonment and banning of this procession. Therefore, it is obvious that the community is divided on this issue. A few moments ago the Hon. Elaine Nile asked why homosexuals would persist in an activity which is deliberately offensive to other
people. Many things happen in the community that people do not agree with, and I
do not agree with, yet they are not banned. Speaking personally, I find boxing a very offensive sport yet it is widely promoted and it appears on television. What is worse, all-in wrestling, which I find even more revolting than boxing, gets wide coverage. I know that I can see boxing, either amateur or professional, or all-in wrestling at certain times of the day, and I do not need to watch it. I can switch off the television.
I do not like the increasing violence of rugby league. That has reached appalling proportions. Professional rugby league players are doing as much damage to themselves and to their opponents as are boxers. Honourable members would not be surprised to hear that my colleague and I believe that a widely followed sport, duck shooting, is an obscenity but that does not mean that I am going around preventing people from shooting ducks. People have a right to do the things that they want to do and they have a right to do those things responsibly. So where do we draw the line if some people want to do those things that we do not want them to? I have been living in Australia for nearly 30 years. In that time I have taken part in many public protests. I have the right to march in protest. I was part of the enormous anti-Vietnam War march in Melbourne which was led by Jim Cairns when he was a Minister in the Whitlam Government. Many hundreds of thousands of people walked down Collins Street to protest about what they believed to be the obscenity of the Vietnam War. I have marched with leading and famous Australian citizens, such as Patrick White, to protest against the export of uranium and the presence in our harbours of nuclear-powered warships. When I did that I knew that there were members of the community who believed that those who joined me in those marches were being offensive. They believed it was patriotic and they still believe it is patriotic to export uranium and increase our export earnings. They do not believe there is a problem in having United States warships in our harbours - within a stone's throw of this Chamber - even though they may be nuclear-powered and carrying nuclear arms; which is never confirmed or denied.
The gay and lesbian mardi gras procession takes place once a year - on one evening out of 365. The mardi gras follows a very restricted route. It usually leaves from the domain behind Parliament House, goes past the cathedral, past the museum in College Street, and up Oxford Street, which is the heartland of the homosexual community in Australia. The mardi gras then proceeds to the showground. Apart from those streets it does not enter any other street in the city. So those people who do not wish to view it have ample opportunity to go about their business in the city. They can use all the other streets and do not need to be affected by it at all. If it is screened on their televisions - news cameras may have covered the event - they have the same ability as I to switch off their television sets. I switch off my set when all-in wresting, boxing or rugby league are screened. I switch off some films that I find offensive. So people are not forced to participate in the mardi gras or to watch it. As I have said, this is not a daily occurrence; it happens once a year.
Other speakers in this debate have said that the word "mardi gras" originated from South America. There are many famous mardi gras. As the Hon.
J. R. Johnson said, originally they were religious observances. Over the years they have become corrupted. They originated long before the advent of Christianity, when there were many wild bacchanalia - in the time of Greek and Roman civilisation upon which our civilisation is based. In fact, they go back beyond Greek and Roman civilisation. At certain times of the year a public festival would be held. It is not new for people to believe that those sorts of festivals are overly suggestive and lewd. In various parts of the world, particularly in South America and in New Orleans, there are many mardi gras which have some aspects of homosexuality and overt heterosexual sex. Mardi gras have always had a parade of participants who have spent many months evolving extremely imaginative and evocative costumes at great expense to themselves. Floats are decorated at great expense and mardi gras are considered to be part of the life of a community. There is no suggestion that these activities should be banned in other countries, yet a section of the community, led by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile, is determined to attempt to ban our mardi gras.
I appreciate the problem faced not only by the Hon. D. J. Gay's family but also by people who have the surname that coincides with the word used to describe the homosexual and lesbian community. That problem is not new to Australia. Even if members of that community decided to use another name it simply would not be possible to do so because these people are known throughout the world, and have been for at least 20 years, as the gay community. We could have a long argument about whether this is a correct way of describing this community. However, it is the popular way of describing it and I do not believe we are able to change the name, although I appreciate the problem faced by the Hon. D. J. Gay and I know that it has distressed his young son. Again, that does not seem to be a reason for banning this march in Sydney. On listening to debate earlier I was made aware by other speakers - some of whom support the view of Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile - that they did not believe the Government had the power to ban that event. It would be a sad day indeed if the Government had the power to ban any form of orderly, public demonstration. I was extremely perturbed by the gun lobby rally. Small children were going out in the streets with their parents to complain about what they believed to be this Government's draconian provisions to prevent what they believed to be their right to own and carry arms.
I found it offensive to see children as young as eight, nine or 10 years of age carrying placards saying "Do not let New South Wales become a police State". I do not believe that if we had reasonable gun laws for police to implement on behalf of the Government, New South Wales would be turned into a police State. I do not agree with that action, but neither do I believe that the Government should have stopped it. Nothing will be achieved by persuading the Government to attempt to ban the parade. That would simply set a precedent for banning other activities; if one group of people does not agree with an activity, it must be banned. I said previously that people who are offended by the overt sexuality and homosexuality displayed in the gay mardi gras have absolutely no need to see it or to go anywhere near the parade. It is not as though the parade proceeds down every street of the city or through residential suburbs; it is confined to a very small area of the city.
The whole concept of the mardi gras has become inextricably interwoven with the dissemination of the AIDS virus - a matter debated earlier today. I should like to quote from a statement in a scientific paper by Professor Leon Eisenberg, published in a recent issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Professor Eisenberg is Professor of Psychiatry and holds the chair at the Harvard Medical School in Boston. He wrote this paper on the AIDS problem in the community. He spoke of investigation by the American National Research Council into the spread of AIDS and the AIDS virus in America. Professor Eisenberg said that the NRC report noted in particular the growing problem among women who use drugs illicitly, women who trade sex for crack, minority women of child-bearing age and among adolescents, a sexually active population group among whom HIV infection already has been seeded. He said that few public school systems in the United States of America have comprehensive sex education programs, and that for the most part the teachers leading such programs are poorly trained. Exactly the same situation exists in Australia. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile and the Hon. Elaine Nile are on record as saying that they do not believe there should be sex education programs in schools. Professor Eisenberg said:
The battle lines have been drawn. On the one side stand those of us who are public health advocates: our approach is pragmatic, our ethics consequentialist. On the other stand religious fundamentalists: for them the prevention of disease is secondary to preserving morality; disease itself is considered part of God's plan. As a public health advocate I too am concerned about moral values, but not to the point of sacrificing those unwilling to live by my standards. In the face of a lethal epidemic, the ideological rigidity of the fundamentalist is like that of the American officer who felt it justified to "waste" the Vietnamese in order to save them from communism. Despite the fact that repeated U.S. public opinion polls have shown that a consistent majority favour strong public health measures, unrelenting political advocacy by the fundamentalists has frightened elected officials enough to postpone action repeatedly. We who care for the sick must see to it that does not continue to happen.
The spread of the AIDS virus is the subject of a massive education campaign in this State and throughout Australia, and certainly is dealt with more than adequately by the homosexual community in its education program. Everyone taking part in the gay mardi gras is well aware of the dangers of unsafe sex and how the AIDS virus is spread. Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile may not accept it, but we will never stop certain people following a homosexual lifestyle. All medical men and women, including sociologists and psychiatrists, and the majority of enlightened public officials accept that at least 10 per cent of the population follows a homosexual lifestyle. As I said this morning in another debate, some of these people also have a heterosexual lifestyle and many of them are married.
Banning the gay mardi gras because the majority of people who participate in it are homosexuals will not change their sexual attitudes or their chosen way of life. It should be remembered that it is not only the extreme gay groups such as the ACTUP organisation who take part in the gay mardi gras. Many Christian groups, such as Anggays, take part. A Roman Catholic group and other church groups take
part. It should not be forgotten that many members of the gay community are regular churchgoers, even if they do not attend the fundamentalist churches in which Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile preaches. I refer again to Professor Eisenberg, who wrote:
All of us would do well to recall the response of the 17th century English physician, Thomas Sydenham, when he was criticised by some of his peers for teaching about the care of patients with syphilis.
In the seventeenth century the sexually transmitted disease syphilis was the killer disease. Doctor Sydenham responded:
I have met with many persons who either from the praiseworthy desire of terrifying the unchaste by fear of future trouble or for the sake of claiming credit for continence on their own part, have not hesitated to argue that the cure of the venereal disease should not be taught. With such I disagree. If we reject all cases of affliction which the improvidence of human beings has brought upon themselves, there will be but little room left for the exercise of mutual love and charity. God alone punishes. We, as best we can, must relieve; neither must we be too curious with respect to causes and motives, nor too vexatious in our censorship.
Hence I will state what I have observed and tried in the disease in question: and that not with a view of making men's minds more immoral, but for the sake of making their bodies sounder. This is the business of the physician.
That remark of a leading physician was made nearly 300 years ago. We should remember it when we consider the impact of the motion of Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile. We must not be too curious with respect to causes and motives nor must we be too vexatious in our censorship. I believe if this motion is carried and if the State Government moves to ban the gay mardi gras, we will be too vexatious in our censorship. There will be a precedent for a later move against some other form of procession, some other form of activity of which a certain group in the community does not approve. For those reasons I oppose the motion.
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL [4.11]: I rise to support the general theme embedded in this motion but not to go as far as the motion would suggest; that is, to ban future mardi gras parades in Sydney. The real issue is whether we are going to support, as the Hon. P. F. O'Grady said, the rights of assembly and the right to express a point of view on the streets of Sydney or elsewhere. The issue is whether we will stand up for what should be described as common decency, to allow the law of New South Wales to take its course and resist the exploitation and exhibitionism some members of our community deem as their right in front of the general public of Sydney and elsewhere. That is the real issue being debated. I hope that the issue might be clarified by a small amendment to the motion. I shall leave that to other speakers who will follow me. I agree with much that has been said because of my general abhorrence of this sort of exhibitionism. Fortunately I have not witnessed one of these mardi gras at first hand. I have only seen on television news broadcasts of what has occurred and other publicity which this event has attracted. I reiterate
that I believe what I have stated is the issue. My personal opinion is that all members of the House with any sense of common decency would support the motion that we do not need this sort of behaviour in Sydney.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: Or anywhere else.
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL: Or anywhere else. However, those people with a sexual preference different to what most of us would call the norm do not have to exploit the difference and make exhibitionists of themselves in public. Heterosexual people would be arrested and put in gaol quickly if they took to the streets and displayed any sort of exploitation of their sexual preference. Yet, for some reason, in Sydney we tend to support and allow people to exploit their homosexuality.
Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. R. T. M. Bull.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD (Minister for Health and Community Services) [4.15]: I move:
That this House do now adjourn.
STEEL JAW TRAPS
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [4.15]: Honourable members may have been aware that a demonstration was held outside Parliament House during the luncheon adjournment. I wonder how many bothered to stop to find out what it was all about. A number of animal groups were present. A number of steel jaw traps were on the ground along with coloured photographs taken recently in western New South Wales by Scott Cardamatis. Among the photographs were pictures of native animals caught in traps, which writhed in agony before they eventually died. There were photographs of a wallaby, an echidna, a parrot and a wombat. I hold up the photograph of the wombat for honourable members to see. One government report a few years back indicated that in a survey of 455 animals trapped, there were 114 wombats, 97 possums, 69 wallabies, 16 lyrebirds and eight echidnas. Only 95 were target species - in this case dingoes. In other words only one in five of the animals trapped were intentional targets.
The steel jaw trap was described in the House of Commons as a diabolical instrument of torture. It was invented over 300 years ago, together with the thumb-screw and the rack. Most city people would never have heard the agonised screams of one of our native animals caught in these diabolical traps. The animals often linger for hours and sometimes days before dying. The wombat in the photograph I held up had obviously been there for quite some time. It had dug a circular rut all around the trap in its attempt to escape. Often animals caught in the traps suffer
from heat exhaustion, or cold, starvation and thirst. Many times they are attacked by bull ants and flies. Gangrene often develops in the wound. Occasionally animals bite off their own paws in order to escape. Australia is one of the last civilised countries in the world to allow the use of these extraordinarily cruel traps. Already 66 countries have banned these traps including Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Greece and Austria. African countries including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi have banned the traps. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have banned them. Even small island States such as Tobago, Cayman Islands and the Seychelles have banned them.
If 66 countries around the world are humane enough to ban the traps, why has not New South Wales done so as well? Does it prove that we are not yet civilised? Does it prove that we condone gross cruelty to animals, including many protected native species? Does it mean that the farmers of New South Wales support cruelty? Whenever a question on animals is asked in this House it brings forth contemptuous laughter, in particular from the Government benches. Every time I ask a question on an animal issue it is treated with derision by Government Ministers who take the opportunity to poke fun and make light of the question. There is no doubt in my mind that we are several years behind many other countries such as Botswana, Malawi, Togo, Gabon and Upper Volta, which have shown themselves to be more civilised by banning steel jaw traps. No doubt members on the Government benches and in particular National Party members will treat this issue with scorn and contempt. I take this as a sign of their lack of caring and their callous attitude towards animals and our native wildlife in particular.
This is about to become a major issue in New South Wales and it will be a test for the Greiner-Murray Government as to how it reacts. Honourable members may laugh and deride, but I can tell them that a very large number of people in our community care very much about the way animals are treated. I therefore ask the Government and particularly the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Mr Armstrong, to act at last to prohibit the setting of steel jaw traps in New South Wales. There are many other ways of keeping down feral animals which are far more humane. There can no longer be an excuse to allow the use of a medieval instrument of torture. Charles Darwin said in 1878 in an essay on the fur trade and trapping:
Some who reflect upon this subject for the first time will wonder how such cruelty can have been permitted to continue in the days of civilisation and no doubt if men of education saw with their own eyes what takes place under their sanction the system would have been put to an end long ago.
I urge the Government to put an end to the use of steel jaw traps in New South Wales.
The Hon. HELEN SHAM-HO [4.20]: On 12th September I made certain comments to the House regarding the fighting in Yugoslavia. I wish to make a supplementary statement about that matter. The information used in my previous contribution was taken from press coverage and representations to me by Croatian Australians. Unfortunately those comments have been interpreted as an attack on the veracity of the Serbian position in the current crisis. Since then I have had the benefit of discussing the matter with representatives of the Serbian community and researching the complex reality of the Yugoslavian situation. Without retreating in any way from my general remarks that I support the establishment of democracy and freedom throughout the world, I believe the House will benefit from the following comments. My reference to the Tienanmen Square event in China as being comparable to Yugoslavia should not be interpreted as implying that the Croats are fighters for democracy while the Serbs are repressing them as hard line communists. The Chinese incident was a case of a political party repressing its ideological opposition within China. In Yugoslavia, however, the conflict is between a republican government which has unilaterally declared its independence and areas in that republic that have refused to acknowledge that declaration.
On one hand the Croatian people expect to have their freely expressed wish to secede from Yugoslavia respected. On the other, the Serbian people, who have populated defined areas in today's Croatia for centuries, want to have their freely expressed wish to remain within Yugoslavia respected. The nub of the problem apparently is not a political or ideological conflict but a question of respecting the right of the constituent people of Yugoslavia to self-determination. I realise that every government in Yugoslavia, whether federal or republican, is composed of communists or former communists. That comment applies to Croatia. To me it means that Yugoslavia has not yet fully freed itself from its communist legacy and that its multinational character presents specific problems that require attention. The inability of both parties to find a political solution has led, unfortunately, to the military conflict. In making comments about recognition of Croatia I was not aware of the freely expressed wish of Serbian people in Croatia not to be forcibly separated from the country of their birth - Yugoslavia. I was told that the Croatian Government has relegated the Serbs from the position of a constituent nation to that of a national minority. I was told further that during World War II there was massive suffering and genocide of the Serbs, Jews and gypsies in the Independent State of Croatia.
I believe that all these matters need to be taken into account without necessarily denying the Croatian people an independent homeland. Nevertheless, I repeat the call for Croatian independence I made previously, but only after the parties - perhaps with international mediation and assistance - have resolved matters related to mutual borders, mutual debts and human rights. I believe this to be the cautious, rational approach that will avoid further conflict in the long term. I am
informed that the Serbian community in Australia has formally commended that approach to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and registered its disappointment with the media's apparent misunderstanding of the complex issues involved. In calling for a stop to the tragic loss of life, recognition of the growing refugee problem among Croats and Serbs alike, recognition of Yugoslavia's constituent nations to freely express their wish either to leave Yugoslavia or remain within it, and for the introduction of fairness and balance in the political solution to the crisis, I am remaining true to the belief expressed earlier to the House that all honourable members should support the establishment of democracy and freedom throughout the world. I hope sincerely that the tragic situation in Yugoslavia will soon cease.
FAIRFAX MEDIA GROUP
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [4.24]: Last night I watched A Current Affair, and I imagine that other honourable members would have seen it as well. Mr Kerry Packer allowed himself to be cross-examined by a journalist from the Fairfax newspapers. This highlighted the behind the scenes struggle that is going on at the moment. It is very important from every perspective - including the perspective of Parliament - that we have in our society a free press. The press must be not only free but objective, professional and honest. Mr Packer has a right to complain about the treatment he has been receiving in recent days from Fairfax journalists. He has been misrepresented and vilified by journalists who, I believe, are wrongly frightened that he will take over the Fairfax newspapers. There is no doubt that the Fairfax group could do with his managerial and promotional skills. He has been able to take over various types of magazines, including the Women's Weekly and the Bulletin; television networks, such as TCN9; and radio stations, such as 2UE. In a very short time, he has turned those enterprises into profitable media activities.
The Fairfax journalists have been trying to exercise worker control over the Fairfax media, particularly the Sydney Morning Herald. I do not know how some of the Fairfax journalists have been able to write some of the articles that they have written. Certainly articles about me and others have been full of errors and bias. Some journalists must have trouble lying straight in bed at night. We have seen the collapse of the Warwick Fairfax bid, part of which, was due to the power struggle with the journalists at the Herald. I know that when Warwick Fairfax tried to bring in a new management team of editors and so on, hundreds of journalists jacked up and said they would not work with them. They had to be replaced and the original editors were restored to their positions. All that industrial strife affected the financial viability of the Fairfax group, particularly the Sydney Morning Herald, and helped motivate the banks to act in a very heavy-handed way which caused Warwick Fairfax to go bankrupt and left a huge debt of $1.2 billion owing by the Fairfax group.
In recent times I have sought corrections from the Sydney Morning Herald which have been rejected outright. I have sought to have a short letter correcting the record published. The editors have written to me saying that it will not be
published. I had shown quite clearly that articles printed were incorrect - basically false - particularly the report that the Uniting Church synod had voted unanimously to reject the Procurement of Miscarriage Limitation Bill. That is completely false and yet there has been no correction. I note that the Melbourne Age and the Australian print corrections, but corrections are seldom seen in the Sydney Morning Herald. I would like the editorial influence of the Sydney Morning Herald to be not directly controlled, but the professionalism, objectivity and truth of that newspaper should be improved. The code of ethics of the Australian Journalists Association should be studied by all journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald and repeated from memory every day. They should make a promise to be objective, honest and professional and to detach themselves from issues on which they have strong views, such as abortion, homosexuality and marijuana. In a democratic society, journalists can have their own view, but they should not let it influence their reporting of industrial relations legislation, the general strike or whatever is being discussed. They should be professional in their reporting.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The honourable member has exhausted his time for speaking.
RECLAIM THE NIGHT RALLY
The Hon. Dr MARLENE GOLDSMITH [4.29]: I would like to bring to the attention of honourable members a rally to be held tomorrow evening, by the Reclaim the Night Committee. This rally is about sexual violence against women. It is about objecting to sexual violence against women. It is about rejecting the assumption that women are the ones who have to limit their lifestyles and give up their freedom because they are more prone to attack than men. This rally is about freedom. It is about opposing rape. It is about opposing violence against women and children. I bring this matter to the attention of honourable members in the hope they will see fit to support the rally and either attend or send messages of support tomorrow evening.
House adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE
The following questions upon notice and answers were circulated in Questions and Answers:
BATHURST PRISON OFFICER HOUSING SALE
Mr Jones asked the Minister for Health and Community Services representing the Minister for Housing -
(1) Is the Government currently selling off Housing Authority houses occupied by
prison officers from Bathurst Jail?
(2) Was each house individually valued before a selling price was determined?
(3) Were some houses valued by inspectors who did not enter the house?
(4) Did some valuations take less than five minutes?
(5) If so, can the Minister be certain that the values of the houses were accurately assessed?
(6) Were the vast majority of houses "gutter or street" valued?
(7) Was all major structural damage deducted from the final assessment?
(8) Were the houses left unoccupied for periods of 12 months to 18 months?
(9) Is there a shortage of rental accommodation in Bathurst and the surrounding district?
(10) Are there suitable vacant homes available for the Authority to purchase?
(11) Were families evicted from their homes in order to sell the Public Servant housing?
(12) Did the Valuer General value a home at 28 Turner Place, Bathurst at $104,000?
(13) Did the Elcom Valuer subsequently value the same home at $21,000?
(14) Did the Elcom Valuer also state that the premises was not fit for human occupation due to structural damage?
(15) Did the Valuer General value a standard three-bedroom housing commission home at 6 McKibbon Place, Bathurst at $103,000?
(16) Did a more modern privately-owned home next door with swimming pool and other features get auctioned for only $85,000?
(17) Is the Public Servant Housing Authority overpricing their properties?
(18) Were tenants told by Alanna May of the Public Servant Housing Authority that the prices offered for their homes were not negotiable?
(19) Did Nicoll & Ireland, the agents acting on behalf of the Authority, subsequently negotiate sales at lower prices to people other than the tenants?
(20) Have all of the 22 homes auctioned so far sold for at least $5,000 under the
prices offered to the tenants living in comparable houses?
(21) When the Government previously sold off housing commission homes in Bathurst did it:
(a) Deduct all paid rent from the purchase price?
(b) Offer an approved loan at the rate of 4% per annum?
(c) Not require a deposit?
(22) Were the Public Servant Housing Authority home tenants offered the same conditions?
(23) If not, why not?
(1-8, 10-14, 16-20, 22-23) These questions concern the Public Servant Housing Authority which falls within the administration of the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Co-operatives.
(15) As 6 McKibbon Place, Bathurst, is a Public Servant Housing Authority dwelling, this information should be sought from that Authority.
(21) (a) A form of rent credit was provided in a small number of former sale programs.
BEGA VALLEY PUBLIC HOUSING
Mr Jones asked the Minister for Health and Community Services representing the Minister for Housing -
(1) Is there a critical shortage of public housing in Bega Valley Shire?
(2) What assessment has been made of the needs of homeless residents?
(3) What action is being undertaken to address those needs?
(1) No. Public housing waiting time within the Bega Valley Shire compares
favourably, across the accommodation range, with those currently existing for the metropolitan Wollongong area, the Illawarra and South East Region's major demand centre.
(2&3) The Department of Housing, through its regional structure, monitors the demand for all its services on a monthly basis. Residents of Bega Valley Shire in need of housing may apply for assistance through the Department's range of services, including priority housing and the Rental Assistance Scheme.
The Department also addresses housing needs in the Shire through its Capital Works Program (increasing public housing stock), the provision of funds to the Sapphire Coast Community Tenancy Scheme and joint ventures under the Local Government and Community Housing Program and the provision of accommodation for two women's refuges.