Question put forward to the Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises) regarding sexist and derogatory language.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:36): My questions are to the Minister for the Status of Women. Where were her media appearances decrying derogatory language and/or attitudes towards women in the following instances:
1.when Mark Latham called journalist Janet Albrechtsen a 'skanky ho';
2.when it was exposed that the Australian Labor Party owns the Colac Hotel, which regularly runs strip shows;
3.when football clubs have responded inappropriately to violence against women;
4.when Coca-Cola ran an advertisement which implied that all women were available for sex if a man consumed their product; and
5.on the numerous occasions when her own former treasurer and deputy premier has verbally abused the member for Bragg?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises) (14:37): Thank you, Mr President. I am very pleased to have an opportunity to talk further on the importance of making sure that we remove all sexist/derogatory language—and for that matter behaviour—from our culture and our society. I think that is a really important thing that we should aim towards and an ongoing challenge, as we know that sexism and some of that sexist/derogatory language is still rife in our community, as we have seen by those disgraceful comments of Tony Abbott and his performance at the rally yesterday.
As I have already said, it is important. This is not about trying to stifle particularly the cut and thrust of political debate. It is most important that robust debate and discussion can take place, and we know that often issues elicit quite emotive and passionate responses from people, and that is a positive thing. It is good to see people speaking from the heart and it is good to see people passionate and committed, but there is a big difference between crossing the line from this robust and passionate debate to one of being offensive, sexist and derogatory.
I stand here today and say that any member of parliament, in particular any leader in our community—
The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Again, I will repeat, because of the noise in the chamber, that I stand here today and condemn any sexist/derogatory behaviour, particularly from members of—
The PRESIDENT: Order! Members on my left should not waste their time interjecting. They do not want to listen to your answer. The Hon. Ms Lensink should listen to the answer as she asked the question, and the Hon. Mr Lucas should allow the Hon. Ms Lensink to hear the answer. The honourable minister.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: As I said, I stand here today making it very clear that, for any community member, but particularly members of parliament and our community leaders, I believe that in respect of the standards of behaviour the expectations of our community are higher and our behaviour should be above reproach, and it should be able to be held up as a model for our community.
I feel quite strongly that the behaviour of members of parliament and our community should be above reproach. I clearly condemn any behaviour that is sexist or derogatory. If any member has been guilty of that, they too should apologise for their offensive behaviour. As I said, that covers all members of our community, including our leaders. I think that is a strong message for everyone here in this chamber, for all members of—
The PRESIDENT: Order! We are going nowhere with this. I think the minister should wrap up the answer. They are not interested; the opposition is not interested.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Clearly, they are not interested in my answer. To summarise, it is a strong message for all members of parliament, particularly our leaders, that sexist, offensive and derogatory language is completely unacceptable.