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Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Page: 2799

Senator TATE(4.35) —I rise for only two minutes in order to refute the quite blatant misrepresentation by Senator Walters of this very important statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) setting the National Agenda for women. I would have to say that Senator Walters's misrepresentation was not only blatant but also deliberate in that there were quotations--

Senator Peter Baume —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I imagine it is quite in order for the honourable senator, if he thinks there has been an error of fact, so to determine it, but he has imputed a motive to Senator Walters and that is clearly contrary to standing order 418. He said that it was a deliberate misrepresentation.

Senator TATE —I withdraw. Rather than make the imputation myself, I leave it to others to judge. What Senator Walters refused to do was to acknowledge the fact that the Prime Minister said:

We want to give women the opportunity to contribute to the full to the future development of our nation, whether in a domestic setting, in the workforce, or in any other aspect of life.

After speaking about the opportunities for women in employment he went on to say:

Women must also feel free to choose to be full-time mothers without the fear that their contribution to family life is somehow of a lesser status than work outside the home.

He went on to make other points, stating:

Increasingly Australian women choose different roles at different stages of their lives. Many women want to leave the workforce to nurture their young children and then be able to return to employment without having to start at the bottom again.

In the past, economic factors and social prejudices have constrained women's choices and women have often been seen only in their familial roles as wives or mothers. Nevertheless-

I quote this for Senator Walters's special benefit-

family life is the central focus for very many Australian women and the Labor Government is committed to giving support to families, and recognises the wide variety of family structures now chosen by Australians.

Finally, just to reinforce the point made by Senator Harradine, it is one thing to express those sentiments, and they have to be acknowledged as having been expressed, and it is another to have the statistical base to form government policies to implement the consequences of that acknowledgment. Here the Labor Government has said:

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.

He points out:

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 put those facts on the record as a complete refutation of Senator Walters's partial quoting and blatant misrepresentation. I leave it, as I say, to others to judge as to the accuracy of her contribution.

Debate (on motion by Senator Ryan) adjourned.