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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2417

Senator HARRADINE (12.09 p.m.) —This is the key clause that extends the pensionable age for women from 60 to 65. We had a debate about this yesterday and, of course, there has been a debate about this since the announcement was made in the budget. I want to place very clearly on the record that this is a very retrograde step.

  It is going to place a further burden on women. It is going to take away from women an advantage that they already have. If it is necessary to take away an advantage that women now have in order to achieve equality with men, I do not think that that is in the spirit of support for women in this country. I said yesterday that my concern is with both those women who are in the work force—particularly part-time workers—and those women who are not. I gave the example of a woman who was working in a retail store of an evening on a part-time basis; she is 55 years of age and she is looking forward to age 60 when she can get a pension or a part-pension and retire. Now she is being told in this legislation that, instead of having five years to go, she has seven years to go. The government is adding another 40 per cent to the time that she has to work in order to be eligible for a pension.

  As I indicated yesterday, if workers were told that they would have to work for another two years to be entitled to long service leave, there would be a riot—there would be a strike, and so there should be. The government is taking an attitude which is anti-women, anti-worker and anti the woman in the home. In the latter aspect, we have a situation where a person who is 55 years of age now will have to wait another two years.

  I reiterate for those members of the Labor Party who are listening that this proposal is being opposed by every peak organisation that represents women workers in this country. As late as March this year the ACTU stated very clearly that it opposed this legislation and sought to get the government to change it. Those who represent persons who have retired or who are pensioners also oppose this legislation. The purpose of this legislation is to allow the government to save a bit more money, but at whose expense? At the expense of the women of Australia!

  I do not blame the minister at the table. She has a job to do, and I suppose in a way it is a very difficult job. Those who made this decision have done so for particular budgetary reasons and not really to give consideration to proper equality.