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Thursday, 20 March 1980
Page: 871

Senator MARTIN (QUEENSLAND) - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs: Has he had drawn to his attention a letter from a Mrs Beverley Cains, a member of the House of Assembly in the Australian Capital Territory, on the subject of the National Women's Advisory Council conference which was held in Canberra on 6 and 7 March? Is the Minister aware that the letter contains a statement that 73 delegates were appointed by the National Women's Advisory Council? Does he agree that part of the tone of the letter indicates that selection- in Mrs Cains ' words, the delegates were 'carefully selected'indicated views which Mrs Cains later described as radical? Is it true that that was a basis of selection? What was the basis of selection for the additional delegates to the women's conference and who selected them?

Senator SCOTT -I have just had my attention drawn to the letter from Mrs Cains regarding the national conference of women and her doubts as to the selection and composition of the National Women 's Advisory Council. I can give the honourable senator some of the details of the establishment of that Council. I am advised that the delegates included 73 elected or selected by the State and regional conferences and 60 delegates-at-large selected by the National Women's Advisory Council on the basis of relevant expertise and experience or as representatives of women with special needs, such as young women, migrant women, Aboriginal women, women living in isolated and rural areas and disabled women. In addition, the Minister for

Home Affairs nominated seven delegatesatlarge with particular expertise. The appointment of the delegates-at-large ensured that the broadest possible range of views was represented at the conference.

The national conference considered a revised draft plan of action which took into account the weight of opinion expressed by women through resolutions passed at the State and regional conferences and in written submissions. The National Women's Advisory Council has undertaken to submit to the Government the final version of the plan as agreed by the conference. The Government will take the recommendations of the plan into account in setting Australia's objectives for the second half of the United Nations Decade for Women and in the preparation of the brief for the Australian delegation to the world conference for the United Nations Decade for Women to be held in Copenhagen in July 1980. Those details are referable to the composition of that body. I cannot at this stage comment on the propositions that have emanated from the conference, but I trust that those comments, at least in part, answer the honourable senator's question.

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