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Notice given 7 September 2006

2483  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister—

(1) With reference to repeated calls by the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) for Muslims to abide by Australian values, most recently on Radio 2GB on 31 August 2006, can the Prime Minister define what are Australian values.

(2) With reference to statements attributed to the Prime Minister that ‘it [accepting Australian values] means understanding that in certain areas, such as the equality of men and women… people who come from societies where men and women are treated in an inferior fashion have to learn very quickly that this is not the case in Australia’:

(a) does the Prime Minister believe that there is equality between men and women in Australia when: (i) women earn on average $170 less per week than men, (ii) 38 per cent of women over the age of 15 have experienced violence, (iii) women are still discriminated against in the workforce because of pregnancy, (iv) more than 100 000 single mothers are living in poverty, (v) men hold 70 per cent of seats in parliament and most positions of power, (vi) only 8.4 per cent of seats on Boards are held by women, and (vii) women cannot hold positions of power in the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations;

(b) what is meant when the Prime Minister infers that Muslim women are treated in an inferior fashion;

(c) what evidence does the Prime Minister have that Muslim women are treated in an inferior fashion or discriminated against; and

(d) can the Prime Minister outline the difference between how Australian Muslim women are treated and how Australian Catholic, Baptist and Exclusive Brethren women are treated.

(3) With reference to the statement attributed to the Prime Minister that ‘fully integrated means accepting Australian values, it means learning as rapidly as you can the English language’, why has the Prime Minister targeted the Muslim community with respect to speaking English when there is evidence that there are other ethnic communities whose grandparents do not speak English.