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Wednesday, 10 May 1989
Page: 2176


Senator VANSTONE —My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his now not-so-new-found capacity as Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. How does he reconcile his proud protestations about his Government's record on equal employment opportunity (EEO) and sex discrimination with the plight of Ms Helen Styles, a journalist with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the landmark Federal Court decision with respect to her allegations? Is the Minister aware that Ms Styles successfully claimed in the Federal Court that the Department had discriminated against her, and that the Government is now appealing against that finding? If so, will he tell us why it is doing so? How can he justify the situation that Ms Styles was unable to use EEO as a shield against unfair employment practices because of the Department's failure to properly and promptly implement an EEO program? Why has the Government paid so little attention to implementing equal employment opportunity programs in its own backyard? Are not the decision to appeal against the finding and, indeed, the failure to properly implement EEO in this Department, and probably others, simply an example of the Government not wanting to practise what it preaches?


Senator BUTTON —That was a neat little speech from the honourable senator, which I cannot match for rhetoric because I do not know enough about the facts.


Senator Boswell —That is twice you have been caught out today. Get prepared.


Senator BUTTON —If I am to be caught out a third time, it will not be by Senator Boswell. I will obtain as soon as I can an answer in relation to Ms Styles's case and the suggestion of an appeal.