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Wednesday, 29 September 1993
Page: 1393

Senator CHILDS —Is the Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women aware of an article in this morning's Australian Financial Review entitled `It's a man's Games, isn't it?' about the search for an executive to run the Sydney Olympic Games organisation? Can she comment on why the chances of a woman getting the top job or there being a `Ms 2000' is summed up as virtually non-existent by some of Australia's top head-hunters?

Senator CROWLEY —I am aware of the article by Sheryle Bagwell in today's Australian Financial Review. In that article, Ms Bagwell cites a tabloid newspaper which spoke of a search for Mr 2000, the executive who will be given the massive task of running the Sydney Olympic Games organisation. Indeed, one could say that the Olympic bid team was not back in Australia one day before Mr Fahey and Mr Baird were contesting for the position. It looks as though Mr Baird lost out to Mr Fahey. Perhaps it will go the other way; we will wait and see.

  Sheryle Bagwell says that she could not find a head-hunter willing to put any money on there being a woman chief executive for the Sydney Olympic Games organisation. Sadly, that is still not surprising. Despite the enormous gains made by women over the last decade, there is still not one woman chief executive at the helm of any of Australia's top 200 companies. The top 10 companies do not have one female board member. Women make up only 1.3 per cent of senior managers.

  As illustrated so graphically at the Trust the Women launch the other day, there are still too few women in our parliaments. This has been mirrored so far in the management of our bid for the Olympics. According to Ms Bagwell, while there were women on the honorary committee, there were none on the bid's executive board.

  I fully support the call that women be fully represented on the new 11-member board of directors which is to choose the new chief executive for the games organisation. I also want to see women making up 50 per cent of the many thousands of employees who will be an integral part of Australia's massive games effort.

  I am also very keen to see young women fully participating in the games. Honourable senators opposite would know, as do my colleagues, that I have never supported the appointment of women to any position except on the basis of merit. That is why I strongly support the participation of women in the Olympic games. It may come as something of a shock to the opposition, but one thing that we have from the Women and media report is the largely unrecognised and unheralded record of Australian women in sport.

  In the Olympic sports from 1948 to 1992, Australian women won 39 per cent of all the medals, but they comprised only 21 per cent of all the teams.

Senator Robert Ray —And got the gold.

Senator CROWLEY —I thank Senator Robert Ray; that was my very next point. I am glad to be assisted by him. The other point that needs to be made is that women have won 11 of the 14 gold medals won by Australians for track and field events since the Olympics in 1948. So Australian women do it very well. They do this country very proud. They will be there, competing for gold, as they have in the past Olympics, and, once again, contributing splendidly.

  We saw the contribution of women in our Olympic bid. We want women to have the opportunity to make the contribution that we know they are so capable of, be it on the sports field, in business or on the Olympic committee. I hope that, with the other achievements of government, we will see the private sector and this Olympic bid committee taking up the challenge to have a fair representation of women on the board. Perhaps they will surprise us after all.

Senator Robert Ray —Mr President, it is time to put an end to the excitement. I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.