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Address to the annual general meeting of the Registered and Licensed Clubs Association



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EMBARGOED UNTIL 2PM, FRIDAY 29 MARCH 1985.

News Release Federal S ecretariat: P.O. Box E t 3. Queen V ictoria Terrace. A C T. 2600 Tel.. (062)73 2564

THE HON MICHAEL HODGMAN QC MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION

ADDRESS TO THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE REGISTERED AND LICENSED

CLUBS ASSOCIATION - LAUNCESTON - 29 MARCH 1985.

"Australia will live to regret the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act 1983, because it is an appalling piece of Legislation," Opposition Frontbencher, Mr Michael Hodgman QC said today.

Mr Hodgman, who was addressing the Annual General Meeting o f 1 the Registered and Licensed Clubs Association of Australia, told delegates that, whilst many Australians would support the principle of non-discrimination this 'legislation is one of the worst enactments of the Hawke Socialist Government - and posed particular problems for Clubs 1 .

"I repeat my comments in the House of Representatives in the Second Reading Debate. I said then that this was 'an appalling piece of legislation, one of doubtful constitutional validity. I said that it was badly drafted; that it was ambiguous and imprecise; that it was destructive of basic and fundamental rights and freedoms and that

it constitutes a denial of the principles of natural justice," Mr Hodgman said. '

"Let there be no mistake about it, this Legislation as a whole is tainted with the pseudo-intellectualism of selfish and unrepresentative feminism and doctrinaire marxist-socialist precepts of contrived equality - defying even the laws of nature. This Bill, in so many ways, brings down upon itself the maxim reductio ad absurdum. It

therefore does a grave disservice to the principle it espouses. .

On 2 June 1983 Senator Ryan introduced the Sex Discrimination Bill 1983 into the Senate,, and this passed through both Houses, (after redrafting and some amendments), by May 1984. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 came into force on 1 August 1984. Its objectives are said to be:

(a) to give effect to certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;

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(b) to eliminate, so far as is possible, discrimination against persons on the ground of sex, marital status or pregnancy in the areas of work, accommodation, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services, that disposal of land, the activities of clubs and the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs; ,

(c) to eliminate, so far as is possible, sexual harassment in the workplace and in education institutions; and

(d) to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle of the equality of men and women.

The Act prohibits both direct and indirect discimination . on the ground of sex, marital status or pregnancy.

So far, so good. These principles are worthy in general terms - it is with the specifics that very real problems arise My function, today, is to canvass the implications of the Hawke Socialist Government's Sex Discrimination Act 1983 from the point of view of Registered and Licensed Clubs throughout Australia. .

This Act makes it unlawful for a club, or ~a committee- of management or representative of a club, to discriminate against a member or an applicant for membership of the club on the ground of a person's sex, marital status or pregnancy. However,_

it is not unlawful to discriminate against a person on the ground of sex if membership of that club is available only to persons of the opposite sex, or if it is not practicable for a benefit to be used or enjoyed simultaneously or to the same

extent by both men and women. In determining whether these exemptions apply, the matters to be taken into account include the purposes for which the club was established, its membership, the nature of benefits it provides, the opportunities for use and enjoyment of benefits by men and women, and other relevant circumstances. The practice of according 'associate' or auxiliary memberships to women members in a club may now be challenged.

In the Act, club means an association (whether incorporated or unincorporated) of not less than 30 persons associated together for social,-literary, cultural, political, sporting, athletic or other lawful purposes that -

(a) provides and maintains for its facilities, in whole or in part, from the funds of the association; and

. (b) sells or supplies liquor for consumption on its ' premises. .

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There are additional variations and qualifications in the State Legislation which club secretaries in Victoria, . New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia would do well to study. I am delighted to remind this Annual

General Meeting that there is no Sex Discrimination Legislation currently applying in Queensland or Tasmania - both of which States have Anti-Socialist Governments.

The Hawke Socialist Government Sex Discrimination Act raises very intricate and difficult questions of law relating to membership of Clubs; employment of females in Clubs, and the question of sexual harassment occurring in Clubs - either between members or between members and employees or vice versa. I have recently appeared before the Commission as Counsel for the Catholic Church, one of whose employees was the victim of an allegation that he had engaged in sexual harassment. I am not at liberty to reveal the details of

that matter - at this point of time. I will, however, at the appropriate time be making a full Submission on-the case in the House of Representatives. Suffice it to say, that I am very concerned about this legislation and the procedures which

are laid down for handling complaints on the question of '

sexual harassment. „

" ' Equally, cm the question of membership Of Clubs, I regret to say that there would be very few clubs in Australia who will be able to withstand - for any extended period of time - the furious and indeed frenzied endevours by feminist

extremists to force their way into each and every male bastion they can bring to mind.

Surely, it will only be a matter of time before these lunatic feminists tell us that it is 1 sexist1 to have the words 'Gents' and 'Ladies' painted on the doors of the toilets of Australia.

The Hawke Socialist Government has a lot to answer for on the basis of its Sex Discrimination Act - which it forced through the Parliament on the weight of numbers. That it will cost the Australian economy a significant amount of money is beyond question - that it will cause excessive

litigation, disputation and confusion is beyond doubt.

ENDS .

LAUNCESTON, 29 March, 1985.

Contact: 062/72 7280