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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1502

Senator CROWLEY (Minister for Family Services) (3.18 p.m.) —I am not going to buy into this for too long.

  Senator Campbell interjecting

Senator CROWLEY —Senator Campbell has actually done it; he has actually annoyed me enough to get me up on my feet on this. Senator Campbell wants to know why Senator Evans covered most of the points—points that I made yesterday. Those points that Senator Campbell, in his cheap point scoring, overlooked altogether were made yesterday.

Senator Campbell —I was here, I was listening and you didn't make the point.

Senator CROWLEY —I did indeed. There is one point that I did not make yesterday, and that is the point that is the difference, but all the other points were made in the answer I gave yesterday. If Senator Campbell wants to score those points, that is fine, but I think his accusing me of being tedious or touchy is nothing compared with his question in question time today. So I would not go around boasting if I were him. I sincerely hope that Senator Knowles now feels differently about the figures.

Senator Knowles —I most certainly do not.

Senator CROWLEY —I thought that might be the case, and that is the problem. What Senator Evans was saying is that seasonally adjusted average weekly earnings data released by the ABS in February 1994 indicate that women's average weekly, ordinary time earnings—that is, excluding overtime—

Senator Knowles —I wish to raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President, on the question of relevance. The minister read this out yesterday. The same brief was given to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Evans has just read it out. Senator Crowley has gone to Senator Evans and got it back from him in order to read it out again. It is wrong, and the ABS figures do not substantiate it. I ask the minister to be relevant and give us the correct information, which she said she would give us yesterday, which she said she would give us today, and go from there.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order. It might be considered repetitive, but it might also be suggested that it is pedantic.

Senator CROWLEY —I find it extraordinary to talk about relevance when we are actually very much to the point.

Senator Knowles —You are passing your bit of paper backwards and forwards: `You read it today, I'll read it tomorrow'.

Senator CROWLEY —No. You are very vulgar, Senator Knowles. As to the matter of irrelevance, I have to say that Senator Knowles is clearly not interested in listening. It is a question not of the straight figures but of a comparison of the appropriate like with like. In February 1994 women's average weekly ordinary time earnings, excluding overtime, for full-time adult employees were 84 per cent of men's earnings, compared with a ratio of 84.2 per cent in November 1991, immediately following the introduction of the enterprise bargaining principle. That is the comparison of like with like that I was not provided with yesterday but which I have today. It is a very important variation—

Senator Knowles —Where are your figures?

Senator CROWLEY —Any minute now. Senator Knowles should hold on to herself and keep calm. Those figures make a difference. One of the things I should say in the minute remaining is that Senator Knowles was very loud in her sneering comments about whether or not we should monitor things. She wanted to dismiss monitoring and the importance of the monitoring the government does on behalf of women. The comments about the monitoring were very rude.

  Senator Kernot interjecting

Senator CROWLEY —I point out to Senator Kernot that some say we had a hand in some of that monitoring too, or at least the campaign for it. The monitoring is just the sort of evidence that Senator Knowles has now. Monitoring is that kind of data that allows month by month, year by year analysis, and so on. If she wants to beg for monitoring today and use the data that is provided by monitoring when she has dismissed it the day before as irrelevant, I do not believe she is strong or long on logic either.

  The important point is that these figures, when comparing like with like, do not sustain the case Senator Knowles was making, or the implication of her question. As I say, when those figures are provided to me—it will be any minute now—I will make sure that they are tabled in this place. Senator Knowles will then be able to calm herself, deal with facts, and not get too carried away.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.