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Tuesday, 29 November 1983
Page: 2950

Senator HAINES(8.52) —It is not my intention to make a second reading speech of any length on the Sex Discrimination Bill 1983 (No. 2). I spoke for half an hour on 21 October on the original Sex Discrimination Bill which the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Senator Ryan) introduced into this place. Anybody who has any interest in finding out how I and the Party which I represent feel about the principles behind this Bill can go back to the Hansard record of the debate of 21 October to find out. I simply take this opportunity to do as Senator Durack has done and that is to commend the Government for being prepared to take note of the concerns that were expressed, not only by the Liberal Party and the Australian Democrats but also, I dare say, by some members of the Minister's party and by members of the community generally. It is good to see a government which is prepared to do that sort of thing on a Bill which is of such tremendous importance to so many people in this country.

Attitudes, of course, in themselves, are not necessarily changed by legislation . But, without legislation, attitudes take a lot longer to change as lack of legislation in a particular area is frequently seen as some sort of good- housekeeping seal of approval by the parliaments for the status quo. So, we certainly need this legislation. I am sorry that Senator Grimes has gone out of the chamber because I think he probably exemplified tonight a lot of what some of us are trying to do with this legislation. For those honourable senators who were not in here when he walked in here a little while ago and for those to whom he had his back turned, he was wearing, as near as I could see, a bright red tee -shirt that had across the front, I think in black print 'I am a born again feminist'. A rather large born again feminist I would suggest in the case of Senator Grimes!

Senator Ryan —It is all quality.

Senator HAINES —It may well be all quality but it is certainly all there. Senator Grimes, I think, was probably proclaiming what a feminist really is. For the benefit of those who sometimes wonder, I suggest that there is a distinct difference between somebody who is a sexist and somebody who is a feminist. The basic difference is that a sexist maintains that there are rigid sex stereotypes and sex roles for the two different sexes, whereas a feminist believes that there are non-rigid sex roles and that sex stereotyping is something that should be removed for all time.

This Bill, therefore, attempts to extend to the 50 per cent of the community which is female, the opportunities, privileges and rights which have always been extended to that 50 per cent of the community which is male. In fact, it sets out to extend the horizons and to expand the opportunities, not only in the work force, but elsewhere, for something in excess of 50 per cent of the population. For that reason, all I had to say on this Bill on 21 October still stands. I repeat my closing remarks then which were that the Bill is to be commended. I wish it a speedy passage.