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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 677 ..

MR CORNWELL (5.20): I shall be supporting Mrs Cross' amendment to this motion, though I regard the entire motion as somewhat superfluous. I ask myself why we are debating this matter here in the ACT Legislative Assembly. I would have thought that the Democrats would have their own people in the Senate who could more adequately address this international matter. Perhaps in closing the debate Ms Dundas will explain why she has felt it necessary to raise it here. Perhaps the Democrats in the Senate are not quite as enthusiastic to indulge in this exercise in political correctness.

I am concerned about a great many of the motions that are moved, carried and signed in the United Nations. It was the Keating government that signed away the sovereignty of much of this country without so much as consulting anybody.

Fortunately, when the Howard government came to power they did institute a system whereby the state and territory governments were at least advised that certain treaties and certain agreements were to be ratified, and comment was sought from the state and territory governments. That is not necessarily a completely adequate way of doing these things. I prefer that you consult the community. Nevertheless, it was better than just willy-nilly signing things off without any reference to the people of Australia. Ms Dundas makes allegations about politics being at play in the Howard government's refusal to do things. I would have thought that Prime Minister Keating's activities were far more reprehensible.

My basic objection to a lot of these protocols is very simply that it is difficult to find out the membership of some obscure committee of the United Nations. No wonder when many of the countries on the committees have absolutely appalling track records when it comes to whatever they are supposed to be trying to enforce. What they are good at is interfering in the sovereignty of other countries. That is what I object to most strongly. Never mind the hypocrisy that many of these countries display.

I have heard a lot of talk about the word "rights" in this debate to date. What about some responsibility, what about some equality and what about merit? I find it passing strange-indeed, I have a question about this on the notice paper-that we have affirmative action and International Women's Day. I do not know whatever happened to International Men's Day. It appears that this does not count. Yet women are constantly talking about equality. Where is the equality in having an International Women's Day but no International Men's Day. It does not seem to me to be very equal.

I would like to know who has signed these protocols. Mrs Cross mentioned some. Never mind the top nations. I want to know whether some of the smaller nations have, and then we will compare their standards in affirmative action or political correctness that involves women against Australia's. I think that would be most interesting and very revealing.

Australia, particularly the ACT, has done an enormous amount for women. You only have to look at the number of women in positions of authority. You only have to look at the number of women in positions of power in the ACT. Yet there is still this complaint-one could almost say "harping"-about the equality that is required by women.

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