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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 678 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

I sometimes wonder whether the extent of young male suicide in this country has anything to do with this affirmative action, this push not for equality but for preference for women. I do not know the answer to that. I simply raise it as a matter of concern.

I was interested to hear Ms Tucker talk about Australia wriggling out of its United Nations obligations. Of course, it cuts both ways. I have a clipping here from the Canberra Times of 27 February. It appears that Sydney's heroin injecting room is in breach of the international drug conventions of the International Narcotics Control Board, a quasi-judicial body set up to enforce the 1961 United Nations Convention on Drugs. We are ignoring this requirement of the United Nations. Tut, tut! There is nothing politic, nothing political in this at all, is there? No, not at all. It is selective. It cuts both ways. We can pick and choose when we wish and when we want to.

By putting up these biased, affirmative action, politically correct types of motions seeking preferential treatment you destroy the status of women. There are many capable women in the community who will not forgive you for doing so. I believe that what Mrs Cross has put forward is a sensible amendment. Let us request the reasons why Australia is yet to ratify this matter. We have speculated from time to time here on this question, but we do not know for sure. I think that is the least we can do, although I repeat that I prefer not to have the matter before the house at all.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (5.27): I did not intend to speak in this debate, but I want to make one point. I note that at least one women's group has annual awards called the Dregs. I just wonder whether that speech was an attempt at immortality.

MR STEFANIAK (5.28): I fully endorse the comments made by Mrs Cross, who has indicated to me that she understands it was John Howard who set up the Office of the Status of Women and found Prue Goward, a very distinguished Australian woman, to run that office.

Mr Hargreaves: Was that through a proper interviewing process?

MR STEFANIAK: I have no idea, but I do not think anyone is complaining about it.

Mr Wood: That is plain wrong. It goes back years.

MR STEFANIAK: He has an excellent woman there, Bill, so do not worry about it.

The points raised by Mrs Cross and the points raised by Mr Cornwell in relation to paragraph (3) of the motion are very valid. Mrs Cross' amendment is worthy of support by this Assembly.

We have absolutely no dramas with paragraphs (1) and (2) as they stand. With International Women's Day being tomorrow, it is appropriate that the Assembly state that it believes that every woman should be free from discrimination on the basis of gender. I am sure we would all agree that every man should be free from discrimination on the basis of gender too. Mrs Cross read out the UN protocol in relation to that. A big tick for that one.

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