Page 794 - Week 02 - Thursday, 10 March 2011

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job, you would have thought, for someone with three kids. But she was forced to leave her job because they were not prepared to have part-time workers.

I think it is really great that we have in general got past this. We do recognise that many people can make a very good contribution in their work in a part-time fashion. That is one small way—not a small way; it is a major way—in which we have increased the opportunities for women and for many men in our workforce.

That is largely going to be the theme on which I am going to very briefly speak. I was inspired in listening to Mrs Dunne’s comments about company boards and the desirability or otherwise of quotas. I was looking back to my previous job. Before being an MLA, I was a director of an ASX-listed company. I did not get there, of course, as part of a quota. The ASX does, as people may be aware, have listing rules, which do talk about governance and issues of board composition. But this is an area where we probably should be pushing even more strongly the concept of merit-based selection.

The theme of my speech today is going to be that merit-based selection, properly done in all cases, would be really positive for women. We are wonderful. We are brilliant. With merit-based selection, we would be in the places that we want to be. We need to remember this. I am sure Mrs Dunne—

Mr Barr: Will you burst into a Helen Reddy song?

MS LE COUTEUR: Yes. If I had a better singing voice, Mr Barr, I would sing it, but I will spare you all my rendition of this.

Mr Barr: I have got it in my iPod.

Mrs Dunne: We need to put on the record that there are lots of people who do not agree.

MS LE COUTEUR: Thank you. Thank you, Mr Barr. Sorry, Mr Assistant Speaker: yes, we must have a debate, and not too much interjection.

It is really important in company boards and in general to cut down the old boys network. I do say the “old boys network”, because it tends to be the old boys rather than the old girls. I could almost say that I look forward to some time in the distant future when maybe the boys will be saying, “We have to cut down the old girls network”—because we have succeeded so well as a result of merit-based appointments. But I fear this will not be in my lifetime—probably not even in the lifetime of my daughter or my granddaughter.

I think it is an important issue. It is one of the issues that I hope that we bring up in terms of looking at equitable investment: how a company runs itself, whether its board has a reasonable number, whether it has a reasonable diversity—a diversity of genders and a diversity of other experience and attributes—and whether its management and its workforce have a reasonable and appropriate diversity.

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