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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3478

Senator HARRADINE(10.37) —I am glad that at least Senator Powell has looked at Senator Walters's amendment. It is quite clear, as the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) said, that Senator Walters has sought leave to move an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act. She has been granted leave. Last night, after having given months of notice about it, I sought to move for the suspension of Standing Orders. Perhaps I should simply have sought leave to--

Senator Gareth Evans —It is sex discrimination!

Senator HARRADINE —Yes, that is true. That leads me to a very interesting point in this whole debate on section 42. I wish to know under what head of power it would be unlawful to exclude a boy from girls' sports in the under-12 age group or for that matter even in the under-92 age group.

Senator Gareth Evans —You mean what constitutional head of power?

Senator HARRADINE —Yes

Senator Gareth Evans —The same as that which supports the whole legislation; that is, the external affairs power and the reliance on the Covenant.

Senator HARRADINE —I thank Senator Evans. He said that it is the external affairs power and a reliance on the Covenant. The Covenant is a convention for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, not against men. Any proposition that is put forward that would exclude a boy from those particular sports would fall to the ground because the Commonwealth does not have, insofar as the States are concerned, a constitutional head of power. I do not know what the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is involving itself for. That is a very important point. It is raised because of the interesting comments made by Senator Evans that it is sex discrimination when I cannot get leave to move an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act but Senator Walters can. I might say with respect to Senator Walters that I agree with what she has been saying. But one should look at the head of power and examine the transcript of what Senator Evans has said to see whether or not people are barking up the wrong tree in regard to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

I heard what Senator Evans said-I want to shorten this debate as much as anybody else-about matters being of importance in an ongoing debate and that this is not the time. He said that last time was not the time to deal with the possibility of a recurrence of the Tralaggan case in the States on the question of conscience. Will we have an opportunity to debate those major issues and the issues that I raised last night and Senator Walters raised today?