Condolences For Former Senator Janine Haines – House Of Representatives

The House of Representatives has paid tribute to former Senator Janine Haines, who died on November 20, 2004. She was 59.

Haines was first appointed to a South Australian casual vacancy in the Senate in 1977. At that time, she replaced the former Liberal Movement Senator Steele Hall, who had resigned and ultimately rejoined the Liberal Party and was elected to the House.

Haines’ term expired in 1978, but she was elected as an Australian Democrats senator at the 1980 election, taking her seat in 1981. Following Don Chipp’s retirement in 1986, she became leader of the party.

Haines resigned her Senate seat to contest the House seat of Kingston at the 1990 election but she was defeated by the sitting Labor MP, Gordon Bilney.

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Hansard transcript of House of Representatives Condolences for Janine Haines.

The SPEAKER (2:00 PM) —I inform the House of the death on Saturday, 20 November 2004 of Janine Haines AM, a former senator. Janine Haines represented the state of South Australia from 1977 to 1978 and 1981 to 1990, and was a former Leader of the Australian Democrats.

Mr ANDERSON (Acting Prime Minister) (2:00 PM) —On indulgence, I would like to say a few words about the passing on 20 November of Janine Haines, a former leader of the Australian Democrats. Janine Haines was born on 8 May 1945 in South Australia to Francis Carter, a policeman, and his wife, Beryl, a schoolteacher. She was educated at Brighton High School and Adelaide University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts, and the Adelaide Teachers College, where she received a diploma of teaching. She went on to become a teacher of English and maths in high schools before entering politics.

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

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

During her time as a senator and party leader she was a key figure in the Senate’s consideration of quite a wide range of legislation. Among her political achievements she listed changes to the sex discrimination legislation, the negotiation of changes to the Hawke government’s Medicare system, her determined public opposition to the Australia card and her stewardship of the Australian Democrats through one of their most successful periods.

During her time as a senator Mrs Haines was a member of a number of Senate committees, including the Senate Select Committee on Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes, the creation of which she strongly supported. She was also a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare, the Joint Committee on the National Crime Authority, and the Joint Select Committee on an Australia Card. She travelled overseas to represent the Australian parliament with parliamentary delegations to Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and New Zealand.

After she left politics she remained very active. She wrote a book, Suffrage to Sufferance: 100 Years of Women in Politics. She served on the council of Adelaide University. She was the President of the Australian Privacy Charter Council. She travelled the country speaking on a range of issues and engaged in radio, newspaper and consultancy work. In the 2001 Queen’s Birthday Honours List Janine Haines was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia for service to the Australian parliament and to politics, particularly as parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats, and to the community. On behalf of the government and, I am sure, all who knew her in this place, I extend to her husband, Ian, to her daughters, Bronwyn and Melanie, and to other family members and friends our very real and sincere sympathy on their loss.

Mr LATHAM (Leader of the Opposition) (2:04 PM) —On indulgence, the Australian Labor Party joins with the Acting Prime Minister in expressing our condolences and sympathy on the passing of Janine Haines. She was well liked and respected around this building and, of course, well remembered as leading the Australian Democrats when they were at their peak. She can take great credit for that achievement.

She saw them as much more than a Senate party—she saw the true legitimacy of Australian politics as resting in this place, the House of Representatives, and so at the 1990 election she decided to give up her place in the Senate to contest the seat of Kingston in this place. She won more than 26 per cent of the primary vote but failed to attract the preferences that were needed to take the seat. That was a real landmark in the development of the Democrats and an achievement in its own right. For that party, it had the spin-off benefit of lifting their profile. In fact, at that election, in the Senate they lifted their support to 12.6 per cent of the vote nationwide and so her party easily held the balance of power in the other place. So while she was unsuccessful in trying to be the first Democrat elected to the House of Representatives, she gave them their high-water mark in the Senate.

She was a very effective politician. She was the first woman to lead an Australian political party and in that role was an inspiration to a huge number of Australians. She was a strong and committed leader of her party and saw its role as much more than an upper house political organisation. In the 1990s, after that defeat, she continued to make an important contribution to the Australian community through her writing and her public speaking. In fact, she had just begun a new career as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, her home town, when she was struck by illness.

On behalf of the Labor Party—and I am sure it is shared right around the House—I pass on my condolences to Janine’s partner, Ian, to her daughters and to her grandchildren. She was well respected in Parliament House and well respected indeed in Australian public life, and she will be greatly missed.

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) (2:06 PM) —On indulgence, on behalf of the Liberal Party, I too wish to pass on our condolences to the family of Janine Haines: to her husband, Ian, to her daughters, Bronwyn and Melanie, and to other family members, on what will be a very great loss for them. Janine Haines filled a casual Senate vacancy in 1977 at the age of 32. It was a very young age to begin a parliamentary career. She came into the Senate to fill the vacancy caused by Steele Hall, who had been elected on the votes of the Liberal Movement Party. Steele had been a premier of the Liberal and Country League in South Australia and had disagreed with the Liberal and Country League and formed the Liberal Movement Party. He had been elected to the Senate and, when he vacated the Senate seat, Janine Haines filled it. Steele was to bring the Liberal Movement Party back into the Liberal and Country League and turn it into the Liberal Party of Australia in South Australia. Janine went on to the other third party force which was then gathering in Australia, the Australian Democrats—which had also been formed by a former senior member of the Liberal Party, Don Chipp.

Janine Haines’s view was that if the Democrats were to become the significant third party force in Australian politics they had to win lower house seats. She had the courage of her convictions to run for a lower house seat in 1990, when she did exceptionally well but did not win. The seat that she ran for, Kingston, has been very much a marginal seat, slipping between the various political parties, ever since 1990. Janine Haines’s position in the Senate was taken by Senator Meg Lees, who in turn was also to go on to lead the Australian Democrats.

Senator Haines began what has proven to be quite a tradition in the Australian Democrats. She was the first woman to lead a political party, and she did it with great panache and great aplomb. There is no doubt that in her day she was a very significant political player. She attracted a lot of adherence to the Australian Democrats, and she was a very forceful spokeswoman for the Australian Democrats. There is no doubt that she had a keen intellect, a very good political feel and a great deal of charisma as she led that political party.

Janine Haines went through some personal difficulties. She came close to death in a car accident once, out at Whyalla, but she never let those difficulties deter her. She talked about a ravenous hunger for politics and said, `Once you’ve tried it, you get hooked.’ That may well be the experience of many members in the House. It is a great tragedy for her and her family, to whom I pass on the condolences of the Liberal Party. It is a loss to the people of South Australia and those people who supported her in third party politics during her career. On behalf of the Liberal Party, I pass on condolences to her friends and supporters.

Ms MACKLIN (2:10 PM) —On indulgence, I am very pleased to join the previous speakers to offer my condolences to Janine’s family. Hers was an extraordinary life cut far too short. Janine Haines became the first woman to lead a federal parliamentary party, in 1986. I have to say I am very sorry that I did not know her. Those who did know her often described Janine Haines as having a very direct and no-nonsense style—one of the great characteristics that I think many people will remember her for. She certainly demonstrated that in some of her early speeches in the parliament where she called for urgent action to address the plight of Indigenous Australians. She also called for greater recognition of and participation by women in public life.

Given her prior career as a teacher, she pursued with great passion the issue of access to education. As she said herself, the right of children to the best education system possible was something that she pursued right throughout her parliamentary career. She called for the government of the day to stop providing placebos and start administering restorative medicine in the form of action not words, teachers not tape recorders and relationships not rock gardens. She had a great passion for education that of course came from her time as a teacher. In an unusual combination for a teacher, she was a teacher of both maths and English. She studied the Australian poet John Shaw Nielsen while she was teaching part time. She was a woman of extraordinary talents and interests.

As others have said already today, there is no question that she was a popular and very widely respected leader of the Australian Democrats. I think that, as others have said today, those years could be looked upon as the party’s golden years, and that owes so much to her extraordinary leadership. To her husband of 37 years, Ian, her daughters, Melanie and Bronwyn, and their families, the grandchildren, we offer our sincere condolences.

Mr DOWNER (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (2:12 PM) —On indulgence, I would very briefly like to support the comments that have been made and say how very sorry I was to hear of Janine Haines’s death. I think Janine Haines was the most substantial leader that the Australian Democrats ever had, and I really mean that. As others have said, she was a very articulate woman and a very intelligent woman. She was also a very honourable and honest woman. Whilst I did not agree with her on many issues, I really did admire her fortitude, her courage and her integrity. She was, as I said, the most substantial leader that the Australian Democrats have had. She was substantial not just in terms of her high profile but in terms of the substance of the person.

I had a little to do with her, as she came from my own state of South Australia. In particular I think today is the day to confess that in 1990 we were very concerned about her determination to win the seat of Kingston. Janine Haines was very popular at that time. The Democrats were riding very high in 1990, and she put a substantial effort into winning the seat of Kingston against the then Labor member for Kingston, Gordon Bilney. I have known Gordon Bilney for a fair period of time, including before he became a member of parliament. We were both in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade together. But, curiously enough, I did not want to see the Democrats win the seat from the Labor Party, because I believed that if the Democrats won Kingston then that would have given the Democrats a beachhead which they would have been able to build on, and in time the Democrats would have become a significant third force in Australian politics, rather akin to the British Liberal Democrats.

I recall working quite closely with Gordon Bilney to ensure that the Democrats did not win that seat—in other words, that Janine Haines did not win. I can only say that, in the interests of the diminishing support for the Democrats, Janine Haines’s failure to win that seat was a very significant development. If she had won that seat, I think the Democrats would have made a beachhead into the House of Representatives. I think she would have been a very significant and forceful figure in the House of Representatives. For those of us who have had significant Democrat votes in our own electorates, it would have been a very major problem for us in terms of holding our seats. I have to confess some self-interest in that regard.

In conclusion, I think she was the most substantial and the most significant leader the Australian Democrats have had. She was a very good woman, a very honourable woman. I extend my condolences to her husband, Ian, and to her children, Bronwyn and Melanie.

The SPEAKER —As a mark of respect to the memory of Janine Haines, I invite all honourable members to rise in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The SPEAKER —I thank the House.

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