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Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Page: 2798


Senator HARRADINE(4.30) —One of the difficulties with addressing papers in this manner is that the period of five minutes is not long enough to enable honourable senators to deal with all of the questions with which they desire to deal. I am sure the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) would be the first to acknowledge that the trade union movement has been responsible for a substantial lift in the status of women in Australia. I recall very well taking one of the first equal pay test cases in this country. It was very hard fought. I also recall putting the argument that it was much more difficult for a woman to sell a pair of shoes to another woman than it was for a man to sell a pair of shoes to another man, yet at that time men were getting paid almost 40 per cent more than women.

I turn to the report. I am concerned about the fact that, although the report deals with some non-economic matters, it does not deal with a matter which is of concern to a large number of women, if my correspondence is any barometer of that. That is the problem that women see for themselves and for their status with the commercialisation of pornography, as was allowed by this Government from 1 February last year. I am concerned that the report of the Senate Select Committee on Video Material has virtually been ignored by the Government. Many, if not all, of the women who have written to me have expressed concern that they are being treated simply as objects and that the nature of this pornography is a violation of the honour that is due to them.

Let me deal with the subject that Senator Walters raised, which is of great concern to me and must surely be of great concern to the Senate and the people of Australia. Those women who do arguably the most important job in society-the raising and nurturing of the future generation-have been virtually ignored.


Senator Crowley —Nonsense.


Senator HARRADINE —Let us look at the facts. As of now a mother with four children is $55.35 a month worse off than she was in 1976. Family allowances have lost their value by 50 per cent. In fact, a one-income family on average weekly earnings now pays $785 a year more in tax than a two-income family on an equivalent income. After the much heralded tax package that one-income family will be paying $809 a year more than a two-income family on an equivalent income. If that is giving due recognition to the mother at home, I do not know what the language is all about. I am happy to see that the Prime Minister at least acknowledges the problem on page 7 of his printed statement, when he says:

It will never with any truth or justice be said of the Labor Government that we are unaware of the tremendous contribution to our national well-being made by women in the home. Without the work they perform the economy would not function as smoothly. At present women's unpaid work in the home and in voluntary activities for the community is not measured and thus tends to be undervalued. In 1988 the Australian Bureau of Statistics will carry out a major time use survey which will provide sound statistical data on women's multiple responsibilities.

I acknowledge that the Prime Minister has finally woken up to the fact that there is a real problem, but something besides this survey needs to be done. Let fairness reign and let the Senate acknowledge that the Prime Minister has indicated that, and we look forward to that result.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.