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Thursday, 26 February 1987
Page: 703


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy) —by leave-Given the presence a few minutes ago of a number of ladies in the gallery suggesting that rape is no laughing matter and suggesting that I ought to apologise, I think that perhaps some misunderstanding may be in order unless I put an explanation on the record. The reference, of course, is to a throw away line which I employed in the course of the debate on the placing of business a couple of days ago when, in response to being rolled over by the Opposition on the matter of a defence statement of recent memory, I said:

. . . I so move on the principle that if rape is inevitable one might as well, if not enjoy it, at least succumb with such grace as one can muster in the circumstances.

It will be perfectly apparent from what I said there that I was not repeating the standard chauvinist cliche; in fact, I was distancing myself from it and employing a totally different form of expression. I did not say, nor would I ever say, in jest or otherwise, that rape could ever possibly be enjoyed. I only say further, in the light of the--


Senator Vanstone —You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Put the dunce's cap on.


Senator GARETH EVANS —Some things do frighten me, Mr President, and Senator Vanstone is one of them, along with the rest of the Opposition's half-back line of Senator Knowles and Senator Walters; but we will not pursue that further. If in the future I am in search of an appropriate metaphor to describe a situation, which I hope will not occur again--


Senator Chaney —I raise a point of order. We are sitting here listening to the Minister make a somewhat ludicrous personal explanation, explaining that he is not sexist. He has just made what I can only regard as a sexist jibe against three senators on my side of the chamber. It is interesting that he did not mention any of the male senators sitting at the back of the chamber. I suggest that the Minister should use this point of order to gather his wits and think a little and to add to his personal explanation an apology for his obvious sexist comments to Opposition senators.


The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order, but I ask Senator Evans to restrict his remarks to the original personal explanation.


Senator GARETH EVANS —Perhaps this gets further weight in the light of the comment Senator Chaney has just made. I say, finally, that if in future the situation again arises-I hope that it does not-that I am in search of some appropriate metaphor, I will be happy to use the expression, as I was requested to do by the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre people, that if castration is inevitable I would certainly succumb to it with such grace as I could muster in the circumstances.