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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2875

Ms FATIN(10.28) —I respond to the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Millar) by saying: If it were the case, as the honourable member has said, that the man and the woman were virtually equal in terms of merit, and if the man felt that the decision was taken unfairly, he would have every opportunity to appeal against that decision. One of the reasons we include in legislation such as the Wool Marketing Bill the provisions that we are talking about tonight is that--

Dr Watson —It doesn't mention men in the Bill.

Ms FATIN —It does actually. When we talk about handicapped persons, Aboriginal persons and migrant persons we are talking about men and women in those areas. We are not talking about only handicapped females or Aboriginal females. Men and women are included in those areas. When we talk about the provisions that we have included in this legislation, and the reasons why we include words, to use the words of the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr McGauran), in a willy-nilly fashion-I suggest they are not included in a willy-nilly fashion-we should remember that they are included to enable the statutory marketing authority to establish programs. Let us assume, for the purpose of this argument, that a corporation did, in fact, discriminate against women or against these other persons. If the word `merit' is included in this legislation we will not encourage that corporation to change its practice. So we include reasonable provisions in the legislation whereby programs are developed and the authority will respond by tabling an annual report. Under this measure it will respond to the Minister within five years with a progress report on those programs.

This Bill requires the EEO provisions to be incorporated in the statutory marketing authority five year corporate plans and annual operational plans with the Minister's agreement. I draw the attention of honourable members to a paper given at an ANZUS conference in 1985 by the EEO co-ordinator from ICI (Australia) Ltd. It is very important that we look at this paper because it is from private enterprise. ICI (Australia) is one of the largest and most successful companies in this country. It began an EEO program in the 1970s. I refer to this paper in answer to the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) and the honourable member for Gippsland who suggested all we need do is include the word `merit'. In the paper Ms Boake stated:

Education is a very important part of introducing a program of change . . .

That is what we are talking about; we are talking about changing attitudes--

At ICI we have also introduced training courses on the philosophy and practice of equal opportunity, and have included this in other training courses, such as management skills and interviewing techniques. The more people who understand the concepts, the more momentum such a program gains.

This company was involved in the Australian Government affirmative action pilot programs. I wanted to give that example to illustrate my point that one cannot just mention the word `merit' because half the time people do not understand it. Tonight I think we have found that very few people understand the difference between positive discrimination and merit. From the number of debates we have had on this issue it is about time that the Opposition parties had a better understanding of the matter.