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Thursday, 30 September 1993
Page: 1585


Senator CHAMARETTE (9.28 p.m.) —I, too, on behalf of the Greens (WA), join in congratulating Ann Millar on her book Trust the Women and express how appreciative we are of the sensitive assembly of information in that book and the inspiring way it has been presented, as well as its content. Gender balance for the Greens (WA) is not something to be artificially structured, not even to be consciously striven for, but more looked at as an indication of health within our organisation. We believe that to have an imbalance, whether it be of gender or of any particular minority group not having power or a choice, needs to be addressed. Our community is changing. Women are emerging from structures that have held them back for years.

  It is appropriate to celebrate the numbers of women who have been achieving parliamentary representation for the community and to encourage more to come. However, we must not forget that simply to have numbers is not the purpose of that change. It is to make sure that the full balance of the voices of our community can be heard at a political level. As Senator Brownhill mentioned, that balance can be injected not simply by domination of a particular gender, but by looking at the contribution that women make, whether it is unseen or visible. I think there is an invisible or unacknowledged contribution and I am very grateful to Senator Brownhill for pointing that out. I was beginning to be afraid that the debate would degenerate just into congratulating ourselves on having women here.

  I would end my comments by saying that it is really the feminisation of political structures, the ability of women in the community to negotiate and achieve consensus, decision making and participation that we need to bring into the political arena before we can congratulate ourselves on succeeding so far. I conclude by again adding my voice to those of other senators in commending this book and the motion moved here today.