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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2174


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(12.00) —We are debating the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Bill 1987. I oppose this legislation. This is not in contradiction to my previous position. I think I was the only person in the Senate who refused to support the Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Bill 1986. At the outset I refer to what this Government has attempted to portray as a contradiction in terms. Opposition to this Bill does not in any way reflect opposition to equal opportunity in employment, and I am opposed to this Bill. It indicates the poor level of public debate which has surrounded this Bill that there are still people who choose to believe that anyone who opposes this Bill does not support the principle of equal opportunity in employment; that they are sexist, racist or out to put down women or migrants. It is the people who take that myopic view who reek of bigotry and prejudice. It is perhaps a reflection of the level of the barren intellectual debate that has taken place on this legislation that there are people who believe that if one does not support the legislation one does not support equality.

The fact is that the Bill does not create equal opportunity; it creates an advantage for certain groups. It is all about the counting of heads. It involves a crude comparison of the numbers of women and other groups with the inevitable conclusion being drawn that if one authority has more people from these groups employed its equal employment program has been more successful. Despite claims that the Bill will not undermine the merit principle, it is all about evaluation of employment programs on the basis of numbers, or de facto quotas. As such, it will lead to the institutionalisation of discrimination, not its elimination.

The second reason I oppose this Bill is that it will not assist women and certain minority groups; it will actually disadvantage them. It will be a sad day for women and migrants if this legislation is passed. Their achievements will immediately be open to doubt when the public realises that they may owe their positions to nothing more than institutionalised discrimination. Tragically, once the doubt is planted in the public's mind the great talents and many of the fine achievements of women, migrants and Aboriginals will be open to suspicions and doubts which at present do not exist and which are not justified. Finally, the Bill is yet another regulation which in this instance will cost public authorities a great deal of unproductive time and money.

I shall now underline some of the provisions of the Bill before going on to show how I believe the Bill will institutionalise discrimination and disadvantage the very group it aims to help. The Bill covers those Commonwealth authorities which employ more than 40 people and which are not subject to the Public Service Act or which are not covered by the affirmative action legislation passed last year. Essentially, these are the autonomous Commonwealth bodies such as the Commonwealth Bank and Telecom Australia. However, the Bill provides an exemption for the major statutory marketing authorities for primary produce. Authorities covered are to commence equal employment opportunity programs from 1 July 1987. I note that such a provision is contained in legislation recently introduced into the House of Representatives affecting the wool industry and the reconstruction of the Australian Wool Corporation.

It is important to point out that the program does not cover only employees of authorities in the normal sense of the word but also contractors. When an authority examines the positions of women employees it will also look at the numbers of women, Aboriginal and migrant contractors. After commencement of the program the employer is to collect statistics about the employment of women, to identify policies and practices which discriminate against women to see whether statistically or otherwise there is a lack of equality of opportunity for women, to set objectives and the quantitative or other indicators against which the effectiveness of the program is to be assessed and to assess the achievements of the program by comparing statistics and information collected with the indicators against which the program is to be assessed. I have mentioned only women but the same provisions apply to Aboriginal, migrants and Torres Strait Islanders. There are also other requirements, such as informing employees and consulting trade unions. Authorities are required to report annually to their Minister, including in the report much of the above information.

Why do I say that this Bill is not about equal opportunity and is in fact about the introduction of quotas? True, there is no stipulation in the Bill that certain percentages of women have to be employed. It has been quoted a number of times that nothing in the Bill is to be taken to undermine the principle that employment should be based on merit. I judge the Bill not to be about equal opportunity because at the same time the Bill goes into great detail about the collection of statistics on the numbers of women employed in various areas. It refers to ascertaining patterns of suspected lack of equality by statistical means. Finally, it refers to assessing equal employment opportunity programs by comparing them with quantitative indicators. There is an obvious conflict between the suggestion that people can be both appointed on merit and appointed to match some statistical target.

The likelihood of this conflict occurring becomes more apparent when it is appreciated that the success of Government authorities in implementing these programs will be determined by comparing the statistical number of women employed with the numerical target. The immediate assumption, of course, will be that if an authority has not achieved an increase in the proportion of women and migrants in its employment it will not have been as successful as an authority which has. It is no good pointing to clause 3 (4) of this Bill and saying, as the Bills supporters have done, that the Bill says that nothing should interfere with the principle of appointment on merit. The important point is not so much what is written in the Bill, for the Bill is a mere piece of paper; it is how the Bill will have effect when enacted. It is comparable to saying that a Bill of Rights in the Soviet Union preserves and protects the rights and privileges of individuals in Soviet Russia.

When there is an obvious conflict between the merit provision and the evaluation of the success of programs based on the statistics of employment of women, in which direction will the public authorities lean? The answer is obvious: They will bend over backward to see that they are able to increase the number in the protected groups that they employ and they will do this even if it means appointing people who are not well qualified. I remind the Senate that employment with the Government, or in this case statutory authorities, is effectively secured tenure. An employee has almost to commit a crime before he is sacked. This inevitably means the retention of some dead wood. It becomes apparent that if it means a quiet night and the avoidance of industrial trouble which may be caused by a dismissal, government authorities will be prepared to sacrifice the objective of an efficient work force. The pressure on statutory authorities will be just the same, with Ministers looking over their shoulders to see what improvement authorities have made to the employment of women. If the best people available are not women, Aboriginals, migrants or Torres Strait Islanders, and an authority is lagging behind in making up this target quota it will appoint a less qualified person from the selected groups.

As if almost an impetus for this debate, the United States of America Supreme Court recently decided the case of Johnson v. The Santa Clara County. I intend to quote extracts from the judgment because, I very much regret to say, it shows an occurrence in the United States of that which this legislation will bring to Australia. Johnson and Joyce were employees of Santa Clara County. Johnson was a man who had worked for the Santa Clara County since 1967. Joyce had worked for the County since 1970. In 1979 a vacancy occurred for the position of road dispatcher. Both applied. Johnson was initially judged to the better candidate. Sadly for Johnson, the Santa Clara County had an affirmative action program in place. The co-ordinator of affirmative action intervened in the appointment and Joyce was appointed. There was no argument by any party that Joyce's sex had played a role in her appointment. It was also found at the trial that Johnson was more qualified than Joyce. The case went to court on an application by Johnson that the appointment offended the United States Civil Rights Act which outlawed discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion or ethnic origin. In a dissenting judgment, Justice Scalia, with whom the Chief Justice and Justice White agreed, quoted excerpts from the facts found at the trial. These facts were not open to doubt in the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia, when talking about and quoting from the agency's affirmative action plan, said:

The one message that the plan unmistakably communicated was that concrete results were expected, and supervisory personnel would be evaluated on the basis of the affirmative action numbers that they produced.

The plan's implementation was expected to `result in a statistically measureable yearly improvement in the hiring, training and promotion of minorities, women and handicapped persons in the major job classifications utilised by the agency where these groups are underrepresented.'

Its preface declared that `the degree to which the agency division attains the plan's objectives will provide a direct measure of that division director's personal commitment to the EEO policy'.

Quite obviously, the program was to be evaluated on numbers and the director was under considerable pressure to see that the numbers were kept up. That was the climate in which Johnson found himself. Scalia, in quoting from the findings of fact at the trial, continued:

If the affirmative action co-ordinator had not intervened, `the decision as to whom to appoint would have been made by the road operators divisions director' . . . who had recommended that Johnson be appointed to the position.

Likewise the even more extraordinary findings that James Graebner, the agency director who made the appointment, did not inspect the applications and related examination records of either Paul Johnson or Diane Joyce before making his decision, and indeed `did little or nothing to inquire into the results of the interview process and conclusions which were described as of critical importance to the selection process'.

The agency director actually said in testimony:

Mr Morton-

that is, the affirmative action director-

was less interested in the particular individual; he felt that this was an opportunity for us to take a step toward meeting our affirmative action goals and because there was only one person on the eligibility list who was one of the protected groups, he felt that this afforded us an opportunity to meet those goals through the appointment of that member of a protected group.

The district court which tried the issue found that Joyce's sex was the determining factor, that Johnson was more qualified and that `but for Mr Johnson's sex, male, he would have been promoted to the position of road dispatcher'. It is my belief that Australia will see more Johnsons as public authority administrators battle to ensure that they appear in a good light by appointing people from chosen groups.

It should be pointed out that the Santa Clara County did not engaged in affirmative action programs involving the legal requirement that quotas be met. Its circumstances were almost identical to the 1986 legislation and the legislation which the Government seeks to impose upon us now. The county simply sought to employ on a case by case basis people from minority groups and women in an attempt to redress what it perceived to be an imbalance between the number of the people it employed and their representation in the county at large. To appoint people with one eye on numbers, even when not statute bound to do so, necessarily involved Santa Clara appointing people to positions who were not the most qualified. The same will happen in Australia.

As I said at the outset of my speech, it will be a sad day for the appointment of women and minorities when this legislation is passed. Few pieces of legislation could do their cause more injury. Again, this is something which the Labor Party just does not seem to understand. My own colleagues, whose opinions I respect and whose right to disagree with the apparent majority of the party room I defend absolutely, given that I have crossed the floor on more occasions than most, at least do not see this legislation, as I understand it from what Senator MacGibbon said, as an end in itself and no doubt acknowledge that it is an education process that will influence public opinion, not government edicts. No doubt, for many, it is the spirit of this legislation that they support.

In fine socialist tradition, one founded upon the belief that governments can fix everything, the Australian Labor Party does not understand that all problems cannot be fixed by legislation. In so many cases, just passing a law does not solve problems. Sometimes it even makes them worse. In my view, this is one such case. It is only the most superficial analysis which looks at the employment of women, counts heads and says that if the number can be increased, we are striking a blow for women. A far more long term approach realises that the cause of women and minorities will be advanced when the community perception and recognition of their talents and skills improves. This Bill frustrates the recognition of those talents. Any women, Aboriginals or migrants who currently hold positions of responsibility do so through their own efforts and talents. These talents are not open to any doubt. They would not have their positions if they were not capable.

This legislation and the affirmative action legislation, which I also opposed, inject another criterion into the appointment of these women which is unrelated to their ability-that is, their sex or their race. It is, as I said, the institutionalisation of racism and sexism. The moment this happens it undermines so much of the hope that community attitudes may be changed and that the contributions which the people from these groups can make, will be recognised.

After this legislation and the affirmative action legislation, there will be an immediate suspicion that women and minority races gained their positions because of this legislation and not because of talent. As I have sought to demonstrate, when operating in a system of institutionalised racism and institutionalised sexism there will be many cases where this is true. People of little talent will be appointed just to make up the numbers. The great tragedy will be, however, that the suspicion will not stop with those who are not talented. It will hang over the heads of all people from the groups the Government so erroneously thinks it is helping. Many men who miss out on positions to which women are appointed will immediately use the scapegoat that they were like Johnson, victims of affirmative action. In some cases they will be justified but they will say the same things in many other cases where there is no justification at all. This does not stop with the disappointed applicant. It spreads through whole industries and departments. It does not take many Johnsons and Joyces before all the people in the protected group are suspected. The harm that this might do to women is immeasurable both in terms of public image and self-esteem.

How would it be if I raised the contention that Senator Ryan was endorsed and elected to the Senate on the basis of her sex rather than on her ability or her talent? I have no doubt that she would be highly offended, notwithstanding the fact--


Senator Ryan —It means that you do not understand the Labor Party.


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I know that the Labor Party has passed resolutions, of which I think Senator Giles was the architect, calling for a certain number of woman members and senators on its side of politics by a certain date. I know that that is a fact. I am not for a moment suggesting that Senator Ryan happened to come within the quota; I am simply saying that she would take great exception if ever it were suggested that she was selected for any other reason than her capacity, talents and ability. I am sure that she would be highly offended if there was any suggestion, any slur, any doubt-


Senator Robertson —Are you here for the same reason?


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Yes, but the honourable senator can add good looks in my case. Of course, I only put that proposition and that theoretical view and illustration to raise the point that many people will be perceived to be in that category and, of course, they will take offence. But it is sad that the community will perceive them to be where they are because of numbers and their sex and not because of their ability. What an intolerable blow that would be to these people and their self-esteem. This sort of thing certainly happens. The term `token black' has become part of the language in the United States. It covers instances where the first eligible black is placed in some position or perhaps on a board for the cynical purpose of projecting a favourable corporate image. We all know of cases where a black is promoted to middle management. He is put in front of a big, shiny wooden desk where the public can all see him, simply so that the company or the corporation can say: `Here is our middle management, here is our contribution to equality'. Of course, the poor black sits there twiddling his thumbs and waiting for his fortnightly pay packet.

I have no doubt that the attitude of Aboriginals, migrants and women is changing. Each group is recognised more and more as having a wealth of talent. Business and governments are employing more in these groups even without legislation such as this Bill. To illustrate the point that women can succeed, and at the same time explode yet another myth, I would like to examine the appointment of women to high public positions. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard three tables.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows-

Table 1

LIST OF FEMALE JUDGES IN THE FAMILY COURT, FEDERAL COURT, HIGH COURT AND SUPREME COURTS. (NOW AND PREVIOUSLY). WHEN APPOINTED AND BY WHOM.

Family Court of Australia

Chief Justice Elizabeth Evatt. Appointed 1976 by Hon. Robert Ellicott, M.P., Federal Attorney-General. Liberal Party.

Lusink, Hon. Justice Margaret. Appointed 1976 by Hon. Robert Ellicott, M.P. Liberal Party.

Murray, Hon. Justice Kemeri Ann. Appointed 1976 by Hon. Robert Ellicott, M.P. Liberal Party.

Maxwell, Hon. Justice Josephine Mary Highfield. Appointed 1976 by Hon. Robert Ellicott, M.P. Liberal Party.

Bulbeck, Hon. Justice Doreen. Appointed 1982 by Senator the Hon. Peter Durack, Attorney-General. Liberal Party.

Renaud, Hon. Justice Margaret Ann. Appointed 1983 by Senator the Hon. Gareth Evans, Attorney-General. Australian Labor Party.

Lawrie, Hon. Justice Mary Jane. Appointed 1986 by Hon. Lionel Bowen, M.P., Attorney-General. Australian Labor Party.

Federal Court of Australia

None.

High Court

Gaudron, Hon. Justice Mary Genevieve. Appointed 1987 by Hon. Lionel Bowen, M.P., Attorney-General. Australian Labor Party.

Supreme Court

New South Wales-None.

Queensland-None.

South Australia-Mitchell, Hon. Justice Roma Flinders. Appointed 1965-83 by Hon. Colin Davies Rowe, MLC, Attorney-General, South Australia. Liberal Country League.

Tasmania-none.

Victoria-none.

West Australia-none.

Appointments by Liberal Party, 5

Appointments by Liberal Country League, 1

Appointments by Australian Labor Party, 3

Table 2

WOMEN WHO HAVE MADE MINISTERIAL POSITIONS IN AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENTS

Commonwealth of Australia

Lyons, Dame Enid Muriel, gbe. uap-Lib.

Vice-President of the Executive Council

19.12.1949-7.3.1951

Rankin, Dame Annabelle Jane Mary, dbe. Lib.

Minister of Housing

26.1.1966-22.3.1971

Guilfoyle, Dame Margaret Georgina Constance. Lib.

Minister of Education

Minister of Social Security

Minister of Finance

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Child Care Matters

12.11.1975-22.12.1975

22.12.1975-3.11.1980

3.11.1980-11.3.1983

22.12.1975-23.6.1976

Ryan, Susan Maree. alp....

Minister for Education and Youth Affairs

Minister for Education

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women

11.3.1983-13.12.1984

13.12.1984-Present

11.3.1983-Present

New South Wales

Crosio, Janice. alp....

Minister for Natural Resources

Minister for Local Government

Minister for Water Resources

5.4.1984-5.2.1986

5.2.1986-Present

4.7.1986-Present

Grusovin, Deidre. alp....

Minister for Consumer Affairs

Assistant Minister for Health

4.7.1986-Present

4.7.1986-Present

Victoria

Toner, Pauline. alp....

Minister for Community Welfare Services

7.4.1982-14.3.1985

Hogg, Caroline. alp....

Minister for Community Services

14.3.1985-Present

Kirner, Joan. alp....

Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands

14.3.1985-Present

Queensland

Chapman, Yvonne Ann. np....

Minister for Welfare Services, Youth and Ethnic Affairs

6.2.1986-Present

South Australia

Steele, Joyce. Lib....

Minister of Education

Minister of Social Welfare

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

Minister of Housing

17.4.1968-2.3.1970

2.3.1970-2.6.1970

2.3.1970-2.6.1970

2.3.1970-2.6.1970

Adamson, Jennifer (now Cashmore). Lib....

Minister of Health

Minister of Tourism

18.9.1979-10.11.1982

18.9.1979-10.11.1982

Weise, Barbara. alp....

Minister of Tourism

Minister of Local Government

Minister of Youth Affairs

Minister Assisting the Minister for the Arts

16.7.1985-Present

16.7.1985-Present

16.7.1985-Present

18.12.1985-Present

Western Australia

Cardell-Oliver, Dame (Annie) Florence. Lib.

Minister without portfolio

Honorary Minister for Supply and Shipping

Minister for Supply and Shipping

Minister for Health

1.4.1947-5.1.1948

5.1.1948-7.10.1949

7.10.1949-23.2.1953

7.10.1949-23.2.1953

Craig, (Margaret) June. Lib....

Minister for Lands and Forests

Minister for Local Government

Minister for Urban Development and Town Planning

10.3.1977-25.8.1978

25.8.1978-25.1.1982

25.8.1978-25.1.1982

Hallahan, (Elsie) Kay. alp....

Minister for Community Services; the Family; Youth; the Aged

Minister Assisting the Minister for Women's Interests; Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs

Minister Assisting the Minister for Women's Interests

25.2.1986-Present

25.2.1986-16.3.1987

16.3.1987-Present

Beggs, Pamela Anne. alp....

Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming

25.2.1986-Present

Tasmania

James, Gillian Hilma. alp....

Minister for Public Health

Minister for Public and Mental Health

Minister for Consumer Affairs

Minister for Administrative Services

29.8.1980-7.7.1981

7.7.1981-26.5.1982

29.8.1980-26.5.1982

29.8.1980-26.5.1982

Northern Territory

Padgham-Purich, Noel. clp....

Minister for Housing and Conservation

13.12.1983-16.10.1984

Number of Female Ministers Appointed by UAP, Liberal Party, National Party and Country Liberal Party: 9.

Numbers of Female Ministers Appointed by Australian Labor Party: 10.

Table 3

LIST OF WOMEN IN STATE AND FEDERAL PARLIAMENTS SINCE 1901

Name

Party

Date

Commonwealth Government

House of Representatives

Dame Enid Lyons ...

UAP

1943-51

Doris Blackburn ...

Ind. Lab

1946-49

Kay Brownbill ...

Lib

1966-69

Joan Child ...

ALP

1974-75,

1980-

Elaine Darling ...

ALP

1980

Roslyn Kelly ...

ALP

1980

Jeanette McHugh ...

ALP

1983

Helen Mayer ...

ALP

1983

Wendy Fatin ...

ALP

1983

Carolyn Jakobsen ...

ALP

Kathryn Sullivan

Lib

Senate

Dame Dorothy Tangney ...

ALP

1943-68

Dame Annabelle Rankin ...

Lib

1947-71

Agnes Robertson ...

Lib

(N.P. from 1955)

1950-62

Dame Ivy Wedgwood

Lib

1950-71

Dame Nancy Buttfield

Lib

1955-65

Marie Breen

ALP

1962-68

Margaret Guilfoyle ...

Lib

1970

Jean Melzer ...

ALP

1974-81

Kathryn Martin ...

Lib

1974

Ruth Coleman ...

ALP

1974

Susan Ryan ...

ALP

1975

Shirley Walters ...

Lib

1975

Janine Haines ...

AD

1977-78,

1980-

Jean Hearn ...

ALP

1980

Florence Bjelke-Petersen ...

NP

1980

Patricia Giles ...

ALP

1980

Margaret Reid ...

Lib

1981

Olive Zakharov ...

ALP

1983

Margaret Reynolds ...

ALP

1983

Rosemary Crowley ...

ALP

1983

Susan Knowles ...

Lib

Jocelyn Newman ...

Lib

Janet Powell ...

AD

Josephine Vallentine ...

Ind

Amanda Vanstone ...

Lib

Suzanne West ...

ALP

NEW SOUTH WALES

Legislative Assembly

Millicent Stanley ...

Nationalist

1925-27

Mary Quirk ...

ALP

1939-50

Lillian Fowler ...

ALP

1944-50

Mary Meillon ...

Lib

1973-86

Rosemary Foot ...

Lib

1978

Janice Crosio ...

ALP

Wendy Machin ...

NP

Legislative Council

Ellen Webster...

ALP

1931-34

Catherine Green...

ALP

1931-32

Gertrude Melville...

ALP

1952-59

Edna Roper...

ALP

1957-78

Anne Press...

ALP, Ind,

Lib.

1959-70

Amelia Rygate...

ALP

1961-78

Mabel Furley...

Lib

1962-75

Evelyn Barron...

ALP

1964-75

Margaret Davis...

Lib

1967-78

Kathleen Anderson...

ALP

1973-80

Florence Lloyd...

Lib

1973-81

Delcia Kite...

ALP

1976

Virginia Chadwick...

Lib

1978

Marie Fisher...

ALP

1980

Deidre Grusovin...

ALP

1980

Dorothy Isaksen...

ALP

1980

Franca Arena...

ALP

Marie Bignald...

Ind

Beryl Evans...

Lib

Judith Jakins...

NP

Elizabeth Kirkby...

AD

Elizabeth Symonds...

ALP

Judith Walker...

ALP

QUEENSLAND

Legislative Assembly

Irene Longman...

Nationalist

1929-32

Ellen Jordan...

ALP

1966-74

Rosemary Kyburz...

Lib

1974

Beryce Nelson...

Lib

1980

Yvonne Chapman...

NP

Teresa Harvey...

NP

Diane McCauley...

NP

Anne Warner...

ALP

Victoria Kippen...

NP

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Legislative Assembly

Joyce Steele...

Lib

1959-73

Jennifer Adamson...

Lib

1977

June Appleby...

ALP

1982

Susan Lenehan...

ALP

1982

Diance Gayler...

ALP

Molly Burne...

ALP

Legislative Council

Jessie Cooper...

Lib

1959-79

Judith Anne Levy...

ALP

1975

Barbara Wiese...

ALP

1979

Diana Laidlaw...

Lib

1982

Carolyn Pickles...

ALP

VICTORIA

Legislative Assembly

Lady Milly Peacock...

UAP

1933-35

Ivy Weber...

Ind.

1937-43

Fanny Brownbill...

ALP

1938-48

Dorothy Goble...

Lib.

1967-76

Joan Heywood Chambers...

Lib.

1979

Jeanette Patrick...

Lib.

1980

Pauline Toner...

ALP

1980

Prudence Sibree...

Lib.

1981

Valerie Callister...

ALP

1981

Beth Gleeson...

ALP

Jane Hill...

ALP

Carolyn Hirsh...

ALP

Margaret Ray...

ALP

Kay Setches...

ALP

Jan Wilson...

ALP

Legislative Council

Gracia Baylor...

Lib.

1981

Joan Coxsedge...

ALP

1979

Judith Dixon...

ALP

1982

Caroline Hogg...

ALP

1982

Joan Kirner...

ALP

1982

Maureen Lyster...

ALP

Jean McLean...

ALP

Rosemary Varty...

Lib.

TASMANIA

House of Assembly

Dame Mabel Miller...

Lib.

1955-64

Amelia Best...

Lib.

1955-59

Lynda Heaven...

ALP

1962-64

Gillian James...

ALP

1977

Mary Willey...

ALP

1978-81

Fran Bladel...

ALP

Judy Jackson...

ALP

Legislative Council

Margaret McIntyre...

Ind.

1948

Lucy Margaret Grounds...

Ind.

1951-57

Phyllis Benjamin...

ALP

1952-75

Kathleen Venn...

Ind.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Legislative Assembly

Edith Cowan...

Nationalist

1921-24

May Holman...

ALP

1925-39

Dame Annie Cardell-Oliver...

Lib.

1936-56

Margaret June Craig...

Lib.

1980-83

Pam Beggs...

ALP

1983

Pam Buchanan...

ALP

1983

Yvonne Henderson...

ALP

1983

Jackie Watkins...

ALP

1983

Carmen Lawrence...

ALP

Judyth Watson...

ALP

Legislative Council

Ruby Hutchison...

ALP

1954-71

Lyla Elliott...

ALP

1971

Margaret McAleer...

Lib.

1974

Winifred Piesse...

NP

1977-83

Grace Vaughan...

ALP

1974-80

Kay Hallahan...

ALP

1983

Beryl Jones...

ALP

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Cecilia Padgham-Purich...

CLP


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —The first of these tables relates to judicial appointments. The myth that the Labor Party has been the staunch promoter of women arises from the grave mistake of believing that those who make the most noise about an issue are the people who are doing the most about it. The facts are that non-Labor parties of Australia have treated women every bit as equally as has the Australian Labor Party. The difference is that where the Labor Party likes to run around the country shouting that it has appointed a woman, as if that fact in itself has some inherent merit, the conservative parties have treated the sex of appointees as largely irrelevant, and I am very glad that they have. Contrary to the utterances of the Labor Party, the conservative parties judge women on their merits. We are just as tough on women--


Senator Robertson —Ha!


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —We are just as tough on women as we are on men and I know that conservative women would not wish it to be any other way. In contrast to the Australian Labor Party, we do not provide women with special privileges. Sadly, this commendable refusal to give special regard and special publicity to sex has often mistakenly been taken to indicate some prejudice against women in the conservative ranks. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. From the tables that I have incorporated it can be seen that the conservative parties around Australia have appointed six female judges to our most senior courts while the Australian Labor Party has appointed three. The first woman judge appointed to a superior court was Dame Roma Mitchell, who was appointed by the Country Liberal League of Sir Thomas Playford in 1965-18 years before the first ALP appointment to a high judicial office.

I turn to the second table, which shows ministerial appointments throughout the parliaments of Australia. The Australian Labor Party has appointed 10 female Ministers in the Commonwealth Parliament and State parliaments while the conservative parties have appointed nine. The first female Minister to be appointed was appointed in my State of Western Australia, being Dame Florence Cardell-Oliver, way back in 1947, when, I suspect, Senator Ryan was still at school. This was well before the introduction of affirmative action. It was well before the Labor Party decided that it would pamper feminist groups with special privileges for women.

The final table is a list of the women who have been members of the State or Commonwealth parliaments. I make the point that in the States of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia conservative women entered parliament before women from the ALP were elected. In the Commonwealth a conservative, Dame Enid Lyons, and Dame Dorothy Tangney from the ALP were elected in the same year, 1943. I also mention that the first and only Aboriginal to enter the Federal Parliament was Senator Neville Bonner of the Liberal Party from Queensland.

I do not wish to make too much of these points lest I defeat my own argument by making it seem that the conservative parties have made some special or particular point of electing women for no better reason than that they were women. I would simply like to dispel the oft-repeated claptrap by the ALP that it has some special affinity with the cause of equal opportunity for women. It has no such damned thing. Its desire to be connected with legislation such as is before the Senate today is nothing more than a disgraceful and cynical attempt to associate itself with Australian women in the hope that it may attract votes by doing so. This is far from the real picture.

If honourable senators really want to see people who believe that women ought to be in the home whether they like it or not, I suggest they speak to some of the right-wing elements of the Australian Labor Party, who on social issues are amongst the most intransigent people in Australia. Their simple philosophy is `treat them mean and keep them keen'. We on this side of the chamber recognise that many women want to work and should be able to do so if they have the ability for the job-that is it, with no other reasons and no special privileges. We also realise that many women want to remain in the home and perform what is the most responsible job given to any person in the community, man or woman, that is, raising young children as responsible Australians.

Legislation such as this, which relies on counting numbers so that authorities can `stock up' on women, ought to be rejected as a slur on women. It states that they cannot succeed without special help. That is a danger to women because it casts doubts over their claims to the positions that they have attained. This legislation will be discriminatory in its practical effect and is exactly counter to the principle of appointment without regard to race and gender contained in anti-discrimination legislation. It is regrettable that the Government feels that only by legislation can it provide equality. I am sure that education is the only way. Of course, women need no artificial crutch to survive in the modern world.