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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2263

Senator RYAN (Minister for Education)(5.07) —The report was requested by the end of the year so that the findings of the inquiry could be under consideration at the time of the Budget process-so that its findings could be used by the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority in preparing its budget and by me in advocating the Authority's budget to the Budget Cabinet. The results of that will be known when the Budget is announced.

Senator Peter Baume raised a question. The equal employment opportunity plan of the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority has been developed by that Authority. That is the first thing I make clear. It has not been imposed on the Authority by the Government, by legislation; only the requirement to have a plan has been imposed by legislation. The Authority, in consultation with its employees, has developed this plan. I am assured that the principle of merit does apply. In the case of the higher duties allowances, where the plan does provide that as far as possible 100 per cent of higher duties at a certain level shall be undertaken by women, that requirement would be fulfilled only if there were that number of women qualified to undertake higher duties. I think that acting in higher duties should be seen more as a managerial training experience than as a job promotion, because there is no guarantee that a person who acts in higher duties will subsequently be promoted permanently to that position. In the past all higher duties positions have been filled by men so that female teachers have not had the opportunity to gain that experience, which is, as I said, similar to some sort of executive training. When women come to apply for a promotion position they cannot get it because they have not had the experience. It is a procedure which should place competent women in a position to get the experience of acting in higher duties, which virtually all their male peers at that level would have had. I presume that virtually all of them would have had that experience, since no women have had it. Having had experience of acting in higher duties, women should then be able to compete more fairly for a promotion position when it becomes available.