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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3478

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(10.42) —I am not in a position to give any indication that the Government will bring forward legislation if and when it appears necessary to meet concerns that come to the fore. One of the difficulties is that if we had some legislative processes in this place that made it possible for such legislation to be dealt with briskly and efficiently there might be a slightly greater temptation for the Government to bring more of it forward than exists at the moment. I do not pre-empt the possibility of some further exercises next year.

I do not want to get into an argument on the constitutional points. Senator Harradine is right to say that the particular convention on which the Sex Discrimination Act most overtly relies is the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, thus not making it possible to rely squarely on that in the context of alleged sex discrimination against a male-a boy in this instance. There is the possibility of reliance on that more general International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with its equal protection of the laws and non-discrimination guarantees. I think that possibly could be called in aid.

Senator Harradine —You are drawing the long bow there.

Senator GARETH EVANS —Well, you never know your luck in a big city. There is also the Territories power, and also the Commonwealth employment power which is called in aid and which is set out in the present Act. I do not seek to give any kind of reasoned or considered response to Senator Harradine, but he makes a fair point and raises a question mark. I hope that Senator Walters will feel that the issues have been sufficiently canvassed. I acknowledge her point that she is not pursuing the matter to a division. I appreciate her courtesy in approaching the debate in that spirit.

Proposed new clause negatived.