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Wednesday, 12 May 1993
Page: 450

Senator VANSTONE —Mr Acting Deputy President, under standing order 191, I seek leave to make an explanation of my remarks on the basis that Senator Cook has misunderstood what I have said. I will not be long.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Chapman)—Senator Vanstone, are you claiming to have been misrepresented?

Senator VANSTONE —I do not want to make a personal explanation; I want to use standing order 191.

Senator Cook —We will accept a personal explanation.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Chapman)—Senator Vanstone, you can explain where you have been misrepresented without leave.

Senator VANSTONE —That is exactly what I want to do. Thank you very much, Mr Acting Deputy President. The extent to which I believe I have been misrepresented by Senator Cook is that he has purported to say to the chamber that my remarks today are such as to undermine any bipartisan effort and to undermine Senator Crowley. That is not the purpose of the remarks, and I think it misrepresents me to say that my remarks are in that context. I will not go into the substance of the matter again, but my remarks were nothing other than in the sense of an opposition's responsibility to highlight that which the Executive is and is not doing well.

  In this matter, as Senator Cook pointed out following what I said, there are a number of ways to look at the problem of gender bias in the judiciary. I simply wanted to make the point that the Government seems to be making a lot of noise about one way and, when put to a simple test as to whether it has any understanding about the other ways in which this could be done, it failed. That has nothing at all to do with whether we all agree that something ought to be done. It was simply a test as to the Government's competence, which the Minister failed.