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Friday, 19 October 1984
Page: 2049

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(10.16) —I hang my head in shame. Being the Minister of a department which is removing-in fact I think it has done so-all such offensive references from legislation, I have no compunction, and my advisers agree with me, in saying that this is one situation where a politician can blame the public servants.

Senator Haines —The typist made a mistake when he put it down.

Senator GRIMES —I say to Senator Haines that what happened, as always happens in the Department of Primary Industry, was that a group of males ignored the fact that that 'he' was there. Of course there is a necessity to replace 'he' with the neutral term 'the Commissioner'. However, to do so at this stage, without the House of Representatives here, would mean that we would not be able to pass the legislation. We will have to amend the legislation later to incorporate Norfolk Island, I believe, and at that stage we will replace that offensive word . Given that the Acts Interpretation Act states that the term 'he' need not refer to a specific gender, we believe that there is no need to amend the Bill in this respect until that later stage. I apologise to all my female-type comrades in the place. On behalf of the Government, on behalf of the embarrassed public servants, I say that we will amend the Bill later, but to delay it at this stage because of this amendment--

Senator Haines —Biological problem.

Senator GRIMES —To delay the Bill because of the biological problem, even though it is an important one, I think is unnecessary.