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Senator Brian Harradine Announces His Retirement; Will Not Contest Election

Senator Brian Harradine has announced that he will not recontest his seat at this year’s election and will leave politics when his term expires on June 30 next year.

Harradine, a controversial figure expelled by the ALP in 1975, has been an independent senator from Tasmania since winning a seat at the 1975, following the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

Statement from Senator Brian Harradine.

Senator Harradine will not recontest seat

I will not be recontesting my Tasmanian Senate seat at the next election. My term is due to end on 30 June 2005. I will leave the Senate as the longest serving senator in the current Parliament and the longest serving independent senator since Federation.

I have made this decision with some sadness and regret. After notifying my supporters of my intentions, I have received very strong appeals to reconsider. But I am sure they and other Tasmanians will understand that after reaching 30 years in the Senate next year, I would like to spend more time with my family. I would also like to concentrate on some writing, speaking engagements and bushwalking.

The Senator Brian Harradine Group will not be nominating another candidate for the election.

In my time in this place I have endeavoured to address public policy matters by applying a framework of social justice principles able to be understood and supported by all persons of goodwill who are committed to a just, free, equal, and life-affirming society.

When I was first elected to the Senate, I confronted a clear threat to the Australian way of life from Communists and the socialist left. From my first days in Parliament I urged a new and moderate path for Australia, arguing vigorously for economic justice for smaller states like Tasmania. I also demanded greater recognition and assistance for Australian families.

I am proud of my strong advocacy over the years for people suffering political oppression, for the rights of workers in Australia and overseas to organise, for initiatives to combat chronic unemployment and for assistance to refugees.

Throughout my parliamentary career I have sought to defend the dignity of the human person against attacks by those who promote a utilitarian philosophy.

In defending human dignity I have decried the objectification of women by the pornography and prostitution industries, tried to prevent the tragic destruction of unborn children through abortion and denounced the “what can be done should be done” technological imperative of some scientists experimenting on human embryos as though they are laboratory rats.

I am particularly proud of the role I have played in promoting and defending the Senate not as a rubber stamp for the government of the day, but as a true house of review scrutinising and refining the laws under which we all live. In the face of increasing centralisation of power, I have sought to ensure the Senate acts to protect the smaller states.

During the difficult GST debate, I remarked that you can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next. But in recent times I have:

  • secured $353 million for Tasmanians from the minority sales of Telstra. This money has contributed to the turn around in the Tasmanian economy;
  • secured, as part of negotiations between the independents and the Government, an extra 1600 new university student places for Tasmanians by 2008, many of which will go to the state’s north and north west;
  • brokered the Wik agreement which not only provided an equitable outcome for indigenous Australians, but also avoided a race-based election.

I will continue to strive to ensure Australia as a society measures up to the standard I have always espoused: that the measure of a civil society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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