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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2871

Mr HUNT(10.05) —I move:

(1) Clause 3, pages 3 and 4, omit the definition of ``equal employment opportunity program''.

The National Party of Australia has opposed this legislation from day one because it does not believe it is necessary. We see it as a very substantial cost burden upon industry, upon organisations which at present are having enough difficulty with all the regulations and other requirements that Commonwealth, State and, in some circumstances, local governments are imposing upon industry. The definition reads:

``equal employment opportunity program'', in relation to the Corporation, means a program of the Corporation that is designed to ensure:

(a) that appropriate action is taken to eliminate any discrimination by the Corporation against women and persons in designated groups in relation to employment matters;

This suggests that the Australian Wool Corporation is in fact discriminating against women, discriminating against people on the basis of race, discriminating against other sections of the Australian community. I refute that suggestion. There is no way that it has done this. The definition continues:

(b) that appropriate measures are taken by the Corporation to promote equal opportunity for women and persons in designated groups in relation to employment matters;

being a program that includes provision for assessment action, consultation action, employee information action, and policy action, in relation to the program;

These sorts of programs involve businesses, commercial undertakings and statutory authorities in a tremendous amount of additional administration and government intervention. As I said in my speech at the second reading stage, I think the insertion of such provisions is only a lot of window dressing for political purposes because clause 43 of the Bill states that appointment will be undertaken on merit. So what are we talking about? Do not let it be said that the National Party is opposed to women; we are opposed to a continuing flow of regulation and what we call social engineering in legislation at a time when society is fairly educated and sophisticated. Any- body who believes that there is discrimination in the community should say where it is. It should be reported to the appropriate State and Federal government authorities.

Our basic objection to this provision in the legislation goes right back to our original objection to the equal employment opportunity legislation. We have gone overboard in this country with conservation and environmental impact statements and so on. Sure, we have to preserve the environment. But every time a piece of legislation of this type is introduced it only adds to overall administration and functioning cost. And for what purpose? Nobody has reported to me-and I do not think anybody has reported to the Minister or to the Government-that there has been discrimination in the Australian Wool Corporation. Can anybody say there has been?

Ms Fatin —How many women are there?

Mr HUNT —If women were interested in applying for a job and they had merit beyond that of the other applicants, of course they would be appointed.

Ms Fatin —Do you really believe that?

Mr HUNT —I really believe that. One sees this today. In the past many women were not educated because their parents did not believe it was necessary to educate the females of a family. That happened in my generation, when I grew up. It happened in my grandfather's day. But most parents today are making sure that their daughters are educated as well as their sons. We will see more and more women take their place in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and in every major role and function in this country. They will take their place according to merit. We do not have to legislate in the Parliament to make sure that these things occur. I think it is outrageous to believe that all these rather complicated, bureaucratic requirements are necessary to ensure that the Australian Wool Corporation chooses its staff by merit. It has done so in the past and I have no doubt that it will in the future.