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Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 1337


Senator McALLISTER (New South Wales) (17:15): I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the response by Senator Cash to a resolution of the Senate of 3 February concerning the Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

Leave granted.

Senator McALLISTER: I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

It is a relief to see that the government has finally filled the vacancy of Sex Discrimination Commissioner, but the very great shame is that this has taken five months and seven days. Through its actions, the government has shown disrespect for the role of the commissioner and disrespect to the women of Australia. After 2½ years of this government, it is an attitude that women are starting to expect.

When we look at the facts, we understand that women earn on average $284.20 less than men every single week. It means they must work an extra 65 days a year to catch up. Single women over 65 are the largest single social group living in poverty. One in five female workers were sexually harassed in the last five years. Despite all of this these facts, which are quite well-known and on the public record, the government thought that it was okay not to have an official advocate for women for almost half a year. It pays to compare the government's attitude about women to the government's attitude to something that it actually cares about—unscientific complaints about wind farms.

Wind farms are an issue that is dear to the government's heart. The former Treasurer is on the record as saying, 'I can't stand those things.' While it took almost six months to appoint a Sex Discrimination Commissioner, it took only 67 days from the date of the Senate's report into wind farm complaints for the government to appoint a wind farm commissioner. It is worth noting that the commissioner earns only slightly less than does the commissioner who supports the rights of more than half of all Australians.

The safe schools program, marriage equality and wind farms tell us just one thing: it is increasingly clear that the government is captured by the preoccupations of a narrow and unrepresentative minority. Unfortunately, in that case, women do not make the list.

Question agreed to.