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Friday, 29 November 1985
Page: 2604

Senator GILES —I refer the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women to the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday concerning the National Agenda for Women. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the process to be followed in the implementation of this agenda?

Senator RYAN —Like Senator Giles, and I believe many honourable senators in this place, I was delighted to hear the Prime Minister yesterday make a major statement on the National Agenda for Women. Those Australian women who are interested in the End of the Decade Conference in Nairobi and the follow up commitments that were made by delegations to that conference will also be delighted to know that our Government is the first, as far as we know, to have responded to the commitment to develop a national agenda for women. The process for the development of the agenda and its implementation will be based very much on consultation with women throughout Australia. The Prime Minister laid down yesterday an outline of the agenda and nominated the areas such as education, families, health, special interest groups and so forth as areas which will be developed for governments to make commitments to from now until the end of the century.

Although our Government is confident that we have nominated areas of great importance to women, and we are in close contact with women throughout Australia to seek their views and get their advice on a wide range of things, we believe that the best way to develop the agenda will be through a process of consultation. I will consult women's organisations throughout Australia, and I hope I will be joined in this very important task by my women colleagues in the Federal Government. We will also be involving the National Women's Consultative Council under the convenorship of Edith Hall in this exercise. I was also pleased to note that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) in responding to the Prime Minister's statement yesterday expressed substantial agreement with it. It may well be, as I am sure we would all like it to be, a bipartisan exercise in which we are engaged. I think it is very important that we achieve bipartisanship in pursuing policy objectives that will continue this Government's outstanding record of raising the status of women from now until the end of the century.