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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2882

Mrs DARLING(11.32) —I wish to comment on a couple of the points made by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) during the debate, which have been repeated by the honourable member on the other side of the chamber. I feel they show a complete absence of logic. One particular point made by the honourable member was that the legislation was not necessary because women have been well educated in 1987. He said that in the past women were not educated to follow a profession, and that that is why there are not many of them in positions in statutory authorities, the Public Service or private enterprise. I agree that that is precisely what happened in the past. Women were not educated to a stage where they could take up such a career. The result has been that, entrenched in the top echelons of statutory authorities, the Public Service and different corporations and organisations are men who had that extra opportunity when women were not being properly educated. It is now being made very awkward for women to move up a career scale.

I have known women in that position-not as lucky as I have been in becoming a member of this Parliament, but within the Public Service-who are absolutely at one level, with younger men coming through and passing them. No matter what people say about enlightened attitudes that is actually happening today. It is one reason why there is a need for legislation-it is needed to set a standard and a value. One of the other comments made by honourable members during the debate--

Mr Hunt —What now?

Mrs DARLING —I hope that the honourable member will allow me to continue'. I did not shout during his contribution. One matter that concerned me was the suggestion that there is something wrong with suddenly setting a legislative framework for something what we believe to be worthwhile. It is suddenly too heavy. Just about every aspect of our lives-such as roads, and hospitals-is controlled, to some extent, by legislation--

Mr Ian Cameron —That is the trouble.

Mrs DARLING —Honourable members do not think it is the trouble.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! There is far too much noise in the chamber. The Chair is having great difficulty hearing the honourable member for Lilley. Honourable members on my left and on my right are making far too much noise. I call the honourable member for Lilley.

Mrs DARLING —Thank you, Mr Chairman. I have not heard this sort of debate about how weighty is the legislation day after day on bread and butter legislation that underlines many aspects of our lives. It is only when it comes to something concerning equal opportunity to do with women that suddenly all of these arguments are dragged up. I find it a little offensive. This is a framework to encourage and facilitate the application of a human right-another one-in that equal opportunity is offered to people who may otherwise be disadvantaged. Do not be mystified. Human rights are not something strange with militants running through. Human rights are just rights for people to use the full potential of what is around them. That is precisely what this legislation does.

The honourable member for Gippsland (Mr McGauran) was very eloquent in his contention that mere words will not result in action. This week I have listened to honourable members, one after the other, speaking about the Parliamentary Privileges Bill, supporting a set of mere words designed to ensure that the rights of members of this House are protected. That was okay. That was just setting a legislative framework to ensure that if something goes wrong and we need that legislation it will be there. Honourable members stood there, one after another, patting each other on the back and saying how marvellous it was to put forward this set of words to ensure that the members of this House get their rights. That is precisely what this legislation does, and I am a bit sick of the strange manner in which honourable members opposite have picked on this legislation and suddenly find it so dreadful that we should have such a thing as legislation in this House which thrives year after year on putting through legislation.

Motion (by Mr Kerin) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Question put:

That the clause be agreed to.