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Monday, 23 June 2008
Page: 5645


Ms HALL (8:09 PM) —I feel compelled to speak on the Governor-General Amendment (Salary and Superannuation) Bill 2008 as it raises some very important issues. Section 3 of the Constitution precludes any changes to the salary of the Governor-General during the term of office, which makes it very important that we pass this legislation in the parliament tonight. Whenever a Governor-General is to be appointed, changes to the salary of the office must be made by way of an amendment to the Governor-General Act 1974 prior to that appointment. The bill amends section 3 of the Governor-General Act 1974 to set a salary of $394,000 per annum. The bill also amends sections 2A and 4 of the Governor-General Act 1974 to remove reference to the superannuation surcharge, which was discontinued in 2005. While the bill amends the act to remove the superannuation surcharge for future governors-general, it does not affect the continued application of the surcharge to those former governors-general to whom the surcharge applied.

On 13 April this year it was announced that Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC would be appointed as Australia’s next and the first female Governor-General following the retirement of His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery. Ms Quentin Bryce is a very special person and I am sure she will be an outstanding success as Governor-General. She has enjoyed a rich and dynamic career as a talented lawyer, academic and senior public servant and as a prolific and dedicated contributor to a range of community organisations. She has made choices throughout her professional and community life that show her strong sense of community responsibility, her commitment to advancing humanity, equity, the rights of women and children and the welfare of the family, and her willingness to share her skills and experiences to improve the lives of many. She is just the type of person that we need as Governor-General.

She is a mother of five children and now a grandmother. The personal aspects of her life, along with her academic qualifications, her community contributions and the fact that she has been a parent and a grandparent, give her a very, very special perspective on life. She has had outstanding achievements with every single thing that she has done in her life. Her appointment as the first female Governor-General means that she will be an even greater role model to women than she has been to date. She was inaugural Director of the Queensland Women’s Information Service, Office of the Status of Women; Queensland Director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner; founding Chair and Chief Executive of the National Childcare Accreditation Council; Principal and Chief Executive Officer of The Women’s College, University of Sydney; member of the Australian Delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission; and lecturer in law at the University of Queensland. We all know that her work has been recognised and she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988.

In 2000, Ms Bryce received the Australian Sports Medal for her service to women’s cricket. I would like to spend a little time on the issue of her status as a role model and what that could mean for women’s sport. Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, I am not sure whether you are aware of this, but women’s sport does not enjoy the same profile as men’s sport. I was recently at a function and spoke to Cheryl Salisbury, the captain of the Australian women’s soccer team. I am sure the House will be surprised to learn that she has been unable to get sponsorship or receive support. For the whole time that she has been captain of the women’s soccer team, she has had to work. It has made her sport a part-time job. If we look at men’s sport, we see that our football players receive salaries in excess of what I earn as a member of parliament. I do not deny their right to receive it. I really enjoy watching the footy when I am at home or going to watch the Knights play in Newcastle, but I also enjoy watching women’s sport, including women’s soccer and basketball. I feel that they should have the same recognition that male participants in sport receive. Captains of Australian national sporting teams, be they male or female, should receive similar recognition.

Our new Governor-General will be in a position to be a role model for women. Her support of sport in the past will be of benefit to other women involved in sport. I think that Quentin Bryce will probably be one of the finest, if not the finest, governors-general that this country has ever seen. It took the Rudd Labor government to appoint the first woman Governor-General. I really look forward to being in this parliament with her as Governor-General and to working with her over the next few years.