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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2320

Senator CROWLEY (Minister for Family Services) (4.26 p.m.) —I cannot do anything more than repeat that there is no doubt women have not yet got to anything like equal status in employment, job opportunities or any of those sorts of things.

Senator Kernot —So why are we doing it now?

Senator CROWLEY —I think Senator Kernot asked: why do it now?

Senator Kernot —Why start at this starting point that you have chosen?

Senator CROWLEY —One of the reasons that we start at this starting point is to continue the reform process in the changing of the world so that women's different contribution to it is acknowledged. Senator Lees may be right that there is some argument about the statistics for women's wages, but I am not going to split hairs with her about the last dot point. It is quite clear that women still do not have equal pay or equal wages with men, but what they do have is a much larger presence in the work force than they did 10 years ago. There are much larger numbers and many better opportunities.

Senator Kernot —How many of them are full time?

Senator CROWLEY —I acknowledge the fact that lots and lots of women are still grouped in the sales, secretarial and service areas and also importantly that a large number of jobs for women are part-time jobs, which may not always be the preferred choice for women. Some women do like part-time jobs, particularly during some time in their lives. But none of that stops us being committed to continuing to improve access to superannuation, access to employment, access to training and access to better paying jobs, which is one of the main thrusts behind our affirmative action legislation. All of that is happening. Not one of the things stands by itself. It does not make for a fair comparison. I believe, as I have said again and again, that the government has the balance of the package right.