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Wednesday, 12 May 1993
Page: 432


Senator VANSTONE —My question is directed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. Are the Minister and her Government satisfied with the outcome in Longman's case and with the degree to which it is or is not being followed?


Senator CROWLEY —Mr President, I am afraid that I do not know what that refers to; so I will take it on notice and get a briefing for the honourable senator as soon as I can.


Senator VANSTONE —I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. The Minister and her Government have made much recently of an admirable concern about gender bias in the law.


Senator Robert Ray —How can you ask a supplementary question?


Senator VANSTONE —The question is coming. The Minister swans around purporting to know something about this. She comments here, there and everywhere on what judges ought to say. Is she telling me—


Senator Gareth Evans —I take a point of order, Mr President.


Senator VANSTONE —This is the question—


Senator Gareth Evans —This is not a question; it is an editorial assertion of a peculiarly offensive kind. Mr President, I ask you to rule her out of order.


The PRESIDENT —Order! Ask the supplementary.


Senator VANSTONE —The question is: is the Minister telling me that as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, she does not know about the most recent High Court authority on what it is and is not acceptable for judges to say—despite the fact that she is happy to spout off about it? The Minister does not give a tinker's damn about whether that case is followed. What is she doing in the job if she does not know the basis of it?


Senator CROWLEY —Mr President—

  Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Order!


Senator Crichton-Browne —Thirty seconds to go, Rosemary.


Senator CROWLEY —Yes, that is quite right, and if honourable senators opposite keep talking and braying there will be nothing further to say. Senator Vanstone accuses me of mouthing off about a whole lot of issues of which I know nothing. My policy is to speak only about what I have been briefed about.