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Wednesday, 22 March 1961

Mr HAYLEN (Parkes) .- I am rather amazed that the men of this Parliament should set themselves up as a superior authority to women on the question of marriage. It is against all precedent to believe that they would know more than women about this subject. One of the coy statements of the male is that he has been inveigled into marriage anyway. But now he becomes an authority and puts his views on the question of marriageable ages against the views of trained and thoughtful women. I find this hard to understand. I am shocked at the defection of my colleagues who sit behind me. They are mostly very loyal in matters of this sort. No doubt when they return to their homes and the true status of women re-exerts itself on a unitary basis, they will be asked to explain why they did not support the amendment moved by their colleague.

My honorable colleague from Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) almost wept into the despatch box about the plight of the little fifteen-year-old girls. I want to point out that, according to the statistics, these little girls did remarkably well for themselves. Here is the situation. Juliet, the immortal Juliet of " Romeo and Juliet ", was just twelve years of age when she breathed on her young lover's neck, " Wherefore art thou, Romeo ". That was the most exquisite love ever phrased in the whole history of literature. We learn that Helen of Troy was thirteen when her face launched a thousand ships. Does the honorable member for Hindmarsh imagine that any of his recalcitrant girls would launch a thousand ships? I doubt whether they would launch a ferry boat on a good day in Port Adelaide. Then, Mary Queen of Scots, the flower of Scotland, became the bride of France at fifteen, did very well for herself, was full of experience, and had discarded her husband before she reached the marriageable age laid down by the Attorney-General in this bill. Therefore, his provision takes no account of the experience of the very young and knowledgeable about the ages of marriage. Finally, the Queen of Sheba, a most historic and biblical character, was only twelve when she ascended the Peacock Throne with Solomon himself in all his glory.

When honorable members talk of the marriageable age and shudder at the prospect of little girls of fifteen years not knowing what they are doing, we find that history certainly does not support them in any way. I rose in a reasonable attitude to point out to the Attorney-General that this is a highly contentious matter. Even if our amendment is defeated, we will still have the verdict of history to support our view that this age we have suggested is not too young. We have heard the poet and the composer on the same theme of the age of marriage. The Attorney-General is very didactic and certain of himself, and is a little too paternal. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) was almost in tears when talking about this situation. But I think that the facts I have given about what happened to

Juliet, Helen of Troy, Mary Queen of Scots and the Queen of Sheba certainly show that my amendment should be passed unanimously.

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