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Thursday, 5 March 2015
Page: 1342


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (15:23): There is a part of me that loathes these sorts of debates because those opposite are trying to engineer some kind of faux outrage or confected outrage because the LNP is holding a function to celebrate International Women's Day. Somehow the Labor Party are appalled and outraged about this. We had the attempted humour by Senator Moore and we had the attempted outrage from Senator Ludwig. But I would make one point: I am none the wiser about whether Senator Ludwig is actually a member of the Tattersalls club or not. That is the question I was trying to get out of him through his debate but I am none the wiser about that.

As a man within the Liberal Party, I am quite proud to say that we have been pioneers over the course of time in promoting and advancing the interests of women. Who could forget that Dame Enid Lyons was the first female member of the House of Representatives and she was a member of the UAP or later the Liberal Party. She was the first female Vice-President of the Executive Council and, once again, the Liberal Party championed that. Who was the first female minister with portfolio responsibilities? Let me guess. Was it on the Labor side? No, it was not. It was Senator Annabelle Rankin, who was appointed Minister for Housing in 1966 for the Liberal Party. Who was the first woman to be appointed to cabinet and administer a government department? It was Senator Margaret Guilfoyle, who was appointed the Minister for Education and Minister for Social Security in 1975. She was in cabinet in 1976, once again, for the Liberal Party. We have a proud history. We have the first female Minister for Foreign Affairs in the current cabinet. We had the first female President of this place, Senator Margaret Reid, who was a proud South Australian at one point and then became an ACT senator.

I do not want to take any lectures from the Labor Party who, instead of promoting people on merit, have to go through a process in which they play gender cards in order to claim their own positions. I reject that in its entirety. In doing so, they exhibit blatant hypocrisy. When they had a democratic vote of their rank and file—like in South Australia to choose their Senate candidates—and they chose someone of the fine quality and characteristics like former Senator Don Farrell as their No. 1 person and they chose Senator Penny Wong as the No. 2 person on that ticket, all hell broke loose. There was a whisper campaign, there was nastiness and there was this whole thing about claiming misogyny and everything else until Senator Farrell, in a fit of chivalry, which is very old-fashioned in this day and age, stood aside to allow Senator Wong to be No. 1 so she would stop complaining about how badly she had been treated by the Labor Party members. The price of that chivalry was that Senator Farrell is no longer politically with us. It did illustrate the point that the Labor Party have demonstrated enormous hypocrisy in their purported standing up for the advancement of women whilst at the same token abusing us for it. It is quite extraordinary.

I also make the point: who can forget the gross betrayal of former Prime Minister Ms Gillard? Tearing down a first-term Prime Minister is quite an extraordinary thing to do, but to do it twice in two terms is extraordinary in itself. So I do not think we can have lectures on treating women respectfully by those on the other side, no amount matter how much they want to claim.

I would make the point that the Prime Minister and indeed the Leader of the Opposition both signed this week the HeForShe Commitment in the parliament. I am hearing today this sort of excuse that somehow men are not able to participate in a conversation about gender equality. In actual fact, if you are having a function for women that is held in a prestigious venue like the Tattersalls club notwithstanding whatever membership restrictions they may have there, the simple point is it is saying this is a very important point, a very important issue that needs to be held up.

Senator McLucas: I am not allowed to go there.

Senator BERNARDI: I hear Senator McLucas saying she is not allowed to go there. You should perhaps talk to Senator Moore, Senator McLucas, because Senator Moore has been there on a number of occasions. So she does not object to the Tattersalls club because she goes there and enjoys it. It is quite extraordinary. My suggestion would be to those senators who are a bit envious on the other side is that they speak to Senator Moore and look about how they can access her access to the Tattersalls club.

This demeans the whole thing. International Women's Day is important. The coalition is locked into it and the Labor Party wants to make points out of it. (Time expired)