Brian Harradine (1935 – 2014) politician
I pay tribute to the great Tasmanian Catholic warrior, Brian Harradine, who died on Monday. He did some wonderful work in the Australian Senate. I was privileged to encounter Harradine up close during the 1993 Mabo and 1998 Wik native title debates in which he exhibited the finest integrity and commitment to Aboriginal rights.
Brian Harradine, was the longest-serving independent parliamentarian and the embodiment of an earlier era of Labor Party division over communist influence within the ALP and union movement.
Famous for making pivotal balance-of-power decisions on the Wik native title amendments, industrial relations changes, the partial sale of Telstra and the GST during the Howard government, Mr Harradine always defended workers rights, the traditional family, and opposed abortion and same-sex marriage.
When he was expelled from the ALP for allegedly working for BA Santamaria’s National Civic Council against the interests of unions in 1975, Mr Harradine, an official with the Federated Clerks Union and member of the Tasmanian Labour Council, decided to stand as an independent and was elected in the same year.
In the 29 years he was in the upper house until his retirement in 2005, Mr Harradine became the “father of the Senate” and held the balance of power variously during the 11 years of the Howard government with the Australian Democrats or former Labor senator Mal Colston.
Wily Harradine delivered for Indigenous Australians
I pay tribute to the great Tasmanian Catholic warrior, Brian Harradine, who died on Monday. He did some wonderful work in the Australian Senate, the chamber which Paul Keating once famously described as ‘unrepresentative swill’. I was privileged to encounter Harradine up close during the 1993 Mabo and 1998 Wik native title debates in which he exhibited the finest integrity and commitment to Aboriginal rights.
The Wik debate was a poisonous political cocktail: a 4–3 decision of the High Court being considered by an unsympathetic Howard Government and a Senate where the Catholic Harradine had the balance of power. Harradine wisely retained the services of Sydney barristers John McCarthy QC and Jeff Kildea to advise him during the Wik debate.
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