The member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, is currently finalising the draft of a private Members’ bill designed to promote gender equality in offices within the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.
He is seeking community support for a greater representation of women in Cabinet, and would like to see as many women as possible in attendance in the gallery of the House of Representatives when he introduces the bill into Parliament.
Mr Palmer's office believe that the introduction of the bill is likely to be tabled during the sitting week starting Monday, 29 February 2016.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEECH
Date Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Speaker: Palmer, Clive, MP
Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (21:10):
Despite all the gains made in gender equality over the last hundred years in Australian society, the role of women is still not equal. When we consider the amount of wealth available to women at retirement in comparison to men, we understand that our sisters and mothers are still not appreciated, respected and valued as they should be. My three daughters need to be all they can be. They need to live as Australians and be not just accepted because of their beauty but valued as citizens because of the content of their character and how they contribute to our society. We all need role models. In this place, in the ministry and the cabinet the low numbers of women further dilute their importance and rob the nation of their talents. Men and women think differently. They approach problems from different perspectives. Australia deserves to benefit from the wise counsel of all its people, not just some.
Do we really believe that women are not as talented as men? Do not have as much to offer as men? Are not as capable of solving a crisis or making a judgement? It is not my view that any gender is superior to another, but we need a balance. We need to recognise all the qualities in our society. It has been 114 years since women got the vote and could stand for parliament. How long does it take—114 years, longer than that?—for a male-dominated society to recognise the value of each and every Australian regardless of their gender? The reduction in the availability of pap smear tests for Australian women shows the Turnbull government has no commitment to the health of women and does not care about their special needs. Do we think this decision would have been taken by the Turnbull government if it was not dominated by men? It is very easy for men who will not face the prospect of cervical cancer to condemn women to their fate and show them no compassion. It is time for all of us to demand changes to address this inequality if we want a truly united country. When society is slow to act and our citizens' rights and opportunities are being suppressed, it is time for parliament to act.
History has shown us that legislation is an effective tool in achieving social change. We have seen that in the workforce and in the application of racial discrimination laws. We need to have a proper gender balance in our cabinet and ministry. Somehow the Canadian government can achieve a gender balance in its cabinet, but our Prime Minister cannot. Ministers are a role model for our society. If we have a ministry dominated by one gender, what sort of message does that send to our people? That one gender is more valuable than the other? That our daughters are not as valuable as our sons? That women can be treated differently from men and that somehow they are not as valuable? These are dangerous undercurrents in our society and are validated by the economic clout that women have in our society.
Why is it that more women than men receive low-income support and low-income super? Why is it that women are subject to more than 90 per cent of all domestic violence in this country? Change starts at the top. We need laws that guarantee that each gender is well represented in cabinet—not necessarily fifty-fifty, but each gender should be entitled to at least 40 per cent of all appointments, to send the right message to Australians that our daughters and our sons are equally important. We cannot wait another 114 years to recognise the value of all our citizens. If change does not come now it may never come. This parliament needs to pass laws that require all genders to be properly represented in all decision-making bodies of the Australian government.
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