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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 4011

Senator WALTERS(4.01) —I wish to make it perfectly clear that I will be voting against the third reading. I also want to make it perfectly clear that I am strongly against any discrimination against my sex or any other sex and against discrimination on the grounds of marital status or pregnancy, but I will not be intimidated by the name of the Bill. The Bill has been named the Sex Discrimination Bill. I do not believe in any discrimination, not merely discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status or pregnancy but also on religious grounds. I believe there is discrimination in this Bill against religious beliefs. It is for that reason, and also because of the use of the external affairs powers, that I will vote against the Bill. As I have said, I do not want to hold up the Senate. I make it perfectly clear to the Senate and to the Australian people that I am absolutely opposed, as strongly as anyone in the Senate, to discrimination against women, which is primarily what this Bill is about. But from the very beginning the intimidation by the Government that anyone who dared to speak out against this Bill was discriminating against women is, I believe, irresponsible. From the very beginning, the Minister assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women, Senator Ryan, has called people who opposed the Bill hysterical-that is the word that she so frequently used-yet she has brought into this place 80-odd amendments to the Bill that she brought forward. She will not tell me-even though she has had plenty of time, days, to do so-how many people signed a petition asking for amendments to the Bill. She has no intention of doing so. I will not be intimidated by the name of this Bill and I want that clearly understood by the Senate.