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Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Page: 2797

Senator CROWLEY(4.20) —The advice flowing is to be remarked. I take note of Senator Peter Baume's comments, which are a matter of record. We would be clear, though, that this Government would take issue with what he regards as small points of detail on some of the issues. One has only to recall the Opposition's difficulties in the sex discrimination legislation to appreciate that matters of difficulty can become major obstacles when it comes to debating and passing legislation.

Senator Peter Baume —How did we vote? Look at the voting divisions.

Senator CROWLEY —It is a matter of note that, as Senator Baume says, during the time in which there was a Liberal government in the past decade some achievements were made for women, but it is a matter of considerable pride and satisfaction to be part of a government that has achieved so much in the past three years, on top of what Senator Baume claims to have been some of the gains and achievements for women before that. It is clear also as a matter of political record that there is considerable dissension in the Opposition ranks about how far and in what detail support for women's movements and women's requirements should go. Whilst Senator Baume has mentioned some women in South Australia, particularly Jenny Adamson, I am reminded also of another significant South Australian woman, Judith Roberts, one time member of the National Women's Advisory Council, who resigned from the Liberal Party of Australia because of its failure to act in support of achievements and legislation for women.

The National Agenda for Women is a record of the considerable achievements of the Government. More importantly, it points to what the Government has set out as the headlines of the agenda for its proposals up to the year 2000. As the document points out, it follows on from the conference in Nairobi to mark the end of the Decade for Women. A couple of points need to be made about that conference. In particular I remark, as I have on a few previous occasions in this chamber, on the interesting and very remarkable response to the Australian Government's presentation of its report on the achievements for women in this country over the past 10 years. That presentation was given by Senator Patricia Giles, the leader of our delegation. Many people were particularly interested to take up some of the comments raised in that report. In particular people were interested in the governmental machinery in Australia to provide, at the Federal level anyhow, the overview from the Office of the Status of Women for keeping an eye on all of the portfolio areas with regard to achievements and needs of women. Australia does not have, as other countries do, a department of women's affairs. It has been seen as very important not to allow the hiving off of women from the mainstream considerations and deliberations of government. Many other governments were interested to discuss that with our delegation.

Another very significant point was our reporting that there had been last year, and was to be this year, a fuller women's Budget program. The comprehensive document released at the time of the Budget addressed every portfolio area of the Budget with regard to its effects, directly and indirectly, on women. South Australia this year has produced a women's Budget document with its Budget Papers and one other State-I think Victoria-has produced a women's Budget paper. Again, that document was regarded with considerable interest. I understand that no other country in the world has taken that step on behalf of women and on behalf of helping everybody in the community to focus on the importance and needs of women.

It is a matter of considerable satisfaction and significance that that document has been produced. It goes very much to the core of reminding us not only of the things Senator Peter Baume listed that had been achieved in times past but also of the things achieved during the life of this Labor Government. The significant steps that need noting, despite Senator Walters's claims to the contrary, are the importance of the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984 and the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Those are things that go to changing attitudes as well as behaviour. We cannot move too slowly or far enough in moving to change attitudes about women, women's achievements, and their rights in this community. I am sure that more will be said on the National Agenda for Women up to the year 2000. The document essentially works for women to have a choice, to have a say, to have a fair go. Under all those headings the document spells out the proposals this Government will set in place so that all those areas will be covered and achieved for women.