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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2260

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (13:57): Two weeks ago the Prime Minister of Australia stood in his courtyard and said he was updating his ministerial code because, as it stood, 'It does not speak strongly enough to values that we all should live, values of respect, respectful workplaces, of workplaces where women are respected.' I repeat: 'workplaces where women are respected'.

Today, Senator Cash used the protection of Senate estimates to launch a disgraceful attack on the young women working in this building. It was an unprovoked attack from a minister under pressure. Today, the minister for jobs attacked young women doing their jobs. Today, the Minister representing the Minister for Women smeared young women. Being a staffer in this place is hard enough. Like so many of my colleagues, I am very lucky to have smart young women working for me. On their behalf, I am offended. Senator Cash's comments were ghastly; they were sexist. They were a 1950s style throwback. And they were a reflection on women working for all political parties. Eventually, the senator offered a conditional apology—one of those mealy-mouthed weasel apologies—if anyone was offended. The Prime Minister should make her offer a proper apology to all of the young women she has offended. (Time expired)