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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2418

Senator CHAMARETTE (12.13 p.m.) —The aim of opposing this clause is to reject the increase in pension eligibility age for women. The move by the government fails on the grounds of equity or logic. The increase, no matter that it is to be achieved over a lengthy period, creates a disadvantage for numerous women when they are at an advanced stage of their working lives—and the statistics on the position of women in the work force and their levels of remuneration show considerable inequity already. It will consign many women to a longer period of participation in the unemployment queues after they have spent many years out of the work force raising families and making an enormous but largely unrecognised and certainly unrewarded contribution to the wellbeing of this country.

  The change also defies logic when more and more men are leaving the work force early due to voluntary and involuntary redundancies and retrenchments. I will not ask the minister to do it now, but I ask rhetorically: could the minister look at the statistics on the shift in the effective retirement age for men over recent years? Furthermore, the government has recognised this shift in the working experience of older men by making special provision for older unemployed people in the activity test and benefit areas of the Social Security Act. As people approach retirement age and are less likely to find paid employment again, they are not required to go through the hoops associated with unemployment benefits. Why, then, place women in precisely the situation from which men have been relieved?

  I know we canvassed this for a long time yesterday. I do not know whether a division is to be called, but I want to place on the public record the Greens' opposition to this clause. I did not call a division on the imprisonment clauses that I wanted changed. I will be voting against the bill at the third reading stage.

  Question put:

  That clause 27 stand as printed.