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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1502

Senator CAMPBELL (3.15 p.m.) —I want to point out to the chamber and particularly to those who are listening on this broadcast day that Senator Knowles asked those questions of the Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women (Senator Crowley). She is actually in the chamber at the moment. It is quite interesting to note that she was unable to answer the questions. In fact, she made a fool of herself during two question times when answering questions from both Senator Knowles and Senator Lees, if I remember correctly. The responsibility of answering the question has been given to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Gareth Evans, because clearly the government does not trust and has no confidence in its own minister to deliver answers which were effectively a technical description of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

  Whether or not Senator Evans's answer is right, the sad political point is that Mr Keating has installed Minister Crowley on his front bench and, clearly, in so many areas like health and women's affairs she is incapable of answering quite simple questions in question time. This has been graphically shown here today by Senator Evans having to answer the questions. Senator Crowley does not even have an excuse for not doing so. She does not have a meeting in her office or something else to go to. She is here, wandering and fluffing around, interjecting from the Black Rod's chair, and she cannot even answer the question.

  The sad reality is that in Australia the rich, Labor's big business mates, are getting richer and the poor, the sort of people that people like Senator Murphy come in here to stick up for, are getting poorer. That is the truth. Amongst those people who are getting poorer are the women in Australia, who the Labor Party professes to stick up for. It wants to create equality between the sexes.

  The cold, hard reality about how this government sees equality is the same as how the pigs in Animal Farm saw it. It is okay for Senator Crowley because she is on a ministerial salary. She is quite okay. She would have us believe that all women should be created equal and should also receive equal pay, but some women should be more equal than others. Women who are close friends of Paul Keating will of course be more equal than all others in Australia. That is the sad reality. The ultimate reality is that Mr Keating's chosen woman minister to represent the interests of women cannot even convince the Senate of the quality of her government's own programs. She has to get Senator Evans to do it for her.