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Wednesday, 11 September 1985
Page: 481

Senator CROWLEY(5.47) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I am pleased to take the opportunity to speak to this paper. I do not think I need to dwell on the achievements of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. I address my remarks to the comments in the report on the Office of the Status of Women within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is very interesting to note the achievements of that Office within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. As the report states, the Office has the task of co-ordinating and developing policies to raise the status of women and to monitor the impact of all government policies and programs on the status of women. I find it very interesting that the Office has set those goals and that outline of objectives for itself. It is not in the business of formulating and developing policies in specific areas but, in fact, has the task of overviewing the impact of all policies and co-ordinating and developing them for women in all departments.

This is quite interestingly in contrast to what was reported in Nairobi at the recent conference where a number of government delegations reported different ways of proceeding to support the status of women in their countries. A number of governments have actually established a department of women's affairs. On hearing Senator Pat Giles's report on the achievements of the Australian Government and the development of the status of women in this country over the last decade and her report on the Office of the Status of Women and the preferred way of this Government in developing policies for women, a number of the other delegates were interested to seek out the Australian delegation for further elaboration and clarification. In some ways the office, with those objectives, has not been caught up in the immediate day to day considerations of all those issues, but has maintained for itself a slightly distant and, therefore, an overview role. People were very interested to discover that and I certainly find it a preferred option or way of proceeding.

In particular this report highlights that on Budget night, 20 August 1984, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) tabled a document entitled the `Womens Budget Program'. In 1984 that Budget document for women provided reports on the major programs and assessment of activities from 13 departments. It was stated then that it was expected that a more comprehensive assessment of the programs of all Commonwealth departments would be provided in the 1985-86 Budget. I recall to the Senate the speech made by Senator Ryan on the occasion of Budget night when she was able to table the document about the women's Budget program for 1985-86, which has achieved its aim in one short year. There are reports now on achievements and progress in all government departments vis-a-vis women. What was promised in 1984 has been achieved in 1985.

Another significant area the Office has been concerned with is the affirmative action pilot program, which was launched in June 1984 with a two-volume policy discussion paper, `Affirmative Action for Women'. To this Parliament during the recess, and certainly to my office this week, has come the discussion paper on affirmative action and a progress report showing where it stands at this stage. That report looks at the pilot program adopted by 28 major Australian companies and three higher education institutions which were invited to participate in a 12-month voluntary affirmative action pilot program. That pilot program has been very informative and important in formulating and developing programs and looking at continuing areas of difficulty for the affirmative action program, so that when the Government introduces legislation it will be based not merely on a good idea but on hard data from that pilot program.

The significance of the tax summit this year also highlighted the importance of the Office of the Status of Women, not only in its contribution to the mini-tax summit or conference on women and taxation which was held here in Canberra and another that I held in Adelaide, but also in its contribution to tax discussion generally this year. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.