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Thursday, 2 September 1993
Page: 867

Senator PATTERSON —My question is directed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. Why has she deliberately refused to join me in condemning the Treasurer for yesterday's outrageous display of sexism?

Senator CROWLEY —I did not know that Senator Patterson had issued that invitation to me; I had not heard until now that Senator Patterson had that view. I arrived back in my office late last night to hear of this comment for the first time that day, so it was too late to make any comment. I think the best I can say is that there is no doubt that many people say in this place, and the other, words that they would like to bite back or haul back as quickly as possible. I would suspect that these comments by my colleague in the other place—which I think are, in short, somewhat patronising and sexist—are just those sorts of words for Mr Dawkins.

Senator PATTERSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. How can the minister have the audacity to criticise the media for portraying women inappropriately, or the judiciary for being out of step with community attitudes, or business for not doing enough to eliminate sexual harassment, when Mr Dawkins has displayed a completely patronising and sexist attitude to a female parliamentarian? When is the minister going to get round to outrightly condemning him—rather than making the wishy-washy statement that she has just made here in the chamber?

Senator CROWLEY —The honourable senator should know that there is a distinct difference between government policy and how one might deal with policy, between my view about the government initiatives for women and how I might speak to my colleagues. I do not have any confusion about the two.