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Thursday, 5 March 2015
Page: 1341

Senator LUDWIG (Queensland) (15:18): I, too, rise to speak on the outrage of members of the LNP, and even more so the LNP Women vice president Peta Simpson. Before I go to the outrage that I will express, let me be clear: International Women's Day, on 8 March, is about 'Make It Happen'. Across Queensland and across Australia there will be many functions celebrating the achievements of women and the effective action of advancing and recognising women. Thousands of events will occur. Of course, it will be about making and recognising the economic, political and social achievements of women across Australia.

I do not think that—and I think many Australians would agree with me—celebrating it at the Tattersall's Club in Brisbane is in accordance with that aim. It is appalling that those opposite have simply laughed off the fact that an International Women's Day lunch is to be held at the men-only Tattersall's Club in Brisbane tomorrow—not even on 8 March.

Ms Simpson, the vice president, is quoted as saying that could not think of a better place. Well, she certainly did not turn her mind to it very deeply. One person said: 'You couldn't make this stuff up!' I agree with that person entirely. It is beyond belief to think that you could not make this stuff up. In defending the choice, as Senator Moore said, Ms Simpson cited an iconic woman of the American civil rights movement. She tried to liken it to the American civil rights movement. I am appalled. Quite frankly, I would be disgusted that you would try to use that analogy if you had read anything about the American civil rights in that period.

Rosa Parks, an African American woman, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. And you want to make an analogous comment about that and think it is funny. I disagree completely. It is a disgrace to draw that comparison. The LNP and those opposite should bow their heads in shame. It just shows how much out of touch the LNP, particularly those in Queensland, are.

Ms Simpson has spoken of the symbolism of having the event at the Tattersall's Club. What symbolism? The fact that a men-only club will allow women to hang off the arm of an ignorant man. The Tattersall's Club always has been and always will be a boys' club. In fact, women are reminded to bring along their partner's card.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator LUDWIG: I am sure you have been asked and reminded to bring along your partner's card, which allows them to enjoy the club's facilities and services.

During question time yesterday, Mr Tony Abbott sang the praises of the LNP and the wonderful broad church that he leads. Mr Abbott, let me assure you, through you, Mr Deputy President Marshall, the church you lead is one of men who follow the bastion of old-fashioned chauvinism, quite frankly. That is the Tattersall's Club; not a modern and vibrant economy that can celebrate the achievements of women on 8 March.

You would be mistaken for thinking that this is all just some sort of joke, that we can just laugh it off. But this is beyond parody. We are clearly expecting too much from a party that has a male Minister for Women. Mr Abbott attempting a comedic defence in the House yesterday was, quite frankly, disappointing and should be left in the dustbin of history and not trailed through this place.

The LNP and those opposite have made a mockery of the day that is about celebrating the achievements of women and bringing light to the issues that women face. The fact that Mr Abbott says that the venue was chosen due to the short notice of the function, quite frankly, just goes to show the LNP's blatant disregard for the importance of International Women's Day. (Time expired)