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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 661 ..


identify that pay equity. I want to do that work and then come back with a bit of a plan about how we proceed from here.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.42): Ms Hunter has brought forward a motion because of the impending arrival of International Women’s Day. It seems that every year when we come up to International Women’s Day there is, usually from the crossbench, the feeling of obligation that “we must put forward a motion in relation to the day”.

The Women for Women website, which is based in Washington DC, describes International Women’s Day as a day when:

… women around the world join together in celebration of the intelligence, strength, courage and beauty of women. Since 1908 this has been a day to celebrate the achievements of women around the world without regard to their national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political differences.

But Joyce Stevens, on the other hand, in the cyber edition of her book A history of International Women’s Day in words and images, says:

The day has been variously seen as a time of asserting women’s political and social rights, for reviewing the progress that women have made, or as a day for celebration. In keeping with its early, radical traditions, Lena Lewis, US socialist, declared in 1910 that it was not a time for celebrating anything, but rather a day for anticipating all the struggles to come when ‘we may eventually and forever stamp out the last vestige of male egotism and his desire to dominate over women’.

So to a degree I am not sure what approach Ms Hunter was proposing when she put forward this motion today. Is she entirely discounting the extraordinary progress that has been made in recent decades to advance the rights of women, especially in this country? Or is she stuck in 1910, intent on stamping out male egotism and the desire for men to dominate over women?

In actual fact, Ms Hunter’s motion today is neither of these things. In many ways, it seems to me to be somewhat of a series of motherhood statements that either state the bleeding obvious, restate activities in which the government is already involved and has been for some time or call on the government to commit to doing things, sight unseen, based on process outcomes that are not even known. Even worse, Ms Hunter’s motion is a mishmash of different subject materials.

When I listen to Ms Hunter it seems that she really wants to talk about pay equity. Pay equity is a very difficult concept, a very difficult nut to crack. It certainly goes without saying that in many cases women earn less than men. But there are a lot of reasons for that which do not actually reflect on any sort of discrimination; it is actually about the choices that women and their families make about whether or not they will be in the workforce. And it is also that often women have somewhat of a luxury about whether they are in the workforce or not—a luxury that often does not accrue in the same way to men.


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