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Wednesday, 14 March 1973
Page: 557

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! If the honourable member would link his remarks to the Bill I would appreciate it.

Mr PEACOCK - I think I could go on from the point that I was making and say that a greater flexibility in work patterns and job mobility to allow a woman to leave her work and come back to it at various stages of her life, if she feels she wants to, is most important. There are, of course, government schemes which allow women to do just that.

The second matter for concern is the figures which show the areas in which women are employed and their average wages. I will not go into this matter in great detail, Mr Deputy Speaker, because I may be straying from the matter under discussion, although to my way of thinking it lies at the base of the matters that I was putting to you. The figures show that women are not favoured in managerial positions. Only 2 per cent of women are managers, compared with 8 per cent of men. To meet with your direction, Mr Deputy Speaker, I shall leave the figures by saying they reveal an unfortunate picture which is due in part to the problems on which I have already touched. The fact that a woman tends to leave her work, marry, stay away and return to it does not make natural progress through the ranks of an organisation very easy, but I think that the lack of progress is due in part to the reluctance to give a woman responsibility or a particular job just because she is a woman. This is lamentable. We may be conservative in this direction. Women in Australia and around the world have shown that they can do just about anything if they have to and that they can do some surprising things well. I would assume that the passage of this legislation will assist them to a greater extent.

There are areas in which individuals can do something to involve women more closely in the fabric of society as a whole and not just in one area - namely, the home. It mav seem surprising at first, but the first women barristers were a surprise, as were the first women doctors, the first women politicians, the first women taxi drivers, the first women company directors and a host of others who are now regarded as commonplace. I focused on this aspect of the Bill because women in our community are a most conspicuous example of a group in our society which is under-involved. Obviously there are others. There are many young women who are not involved in society and who have so much to offer. I wanted to point out this under-involvement of women. In no way qualifying what I have said, I simply make one point which frequently seems to be overlooked. Progress towards a more equitable social role for women must of necessity involve an altered social role for men. Women deserve equal pay and opportunity. Therefore the role of the male as provider must be changed. So, too, the legal bias which can economically cripple divorced men should be changed, and legal cases should be determined on their merits. I shall not stroll further from the point. In conclusion I say that I support the Bill. I regret that I have had to curtail my remarks - not as a consequence of your direction, Mr Deputy Speaker, but because of the need to meet another commitment.

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