Thursday, 12 November 2015
Questions without Notice
Sex Discrimination Commissioner
My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis. Can the Attorney-General confirm that the position of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner still remains vacant despite his promise three weeks ago that an appointment will be made shortly? When will an announcement be made about the new Sex Discrimination Commissioner, given that this vacancy occurred over two months ago and the government received 12 months notice of Ms Broderick's departure?
Government senators interjecting—
I am deeply relieved by that answer. Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. What steps is the Attorney-General taking in the absence, however short, of a dedicated Sex Discrimination Commissioner to continue the important work of former Commissioner Broderick, who convened the Male Champions of Change, a group of some of Australia's most influential and diverse male CEOs and chairpersons?
The Human Rights Commission is continuing that work, and acting arrangements are in place. We have a great deal of respect for the work that Elizabeth Broderick did when she was the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. This is a matter that I have discussed with the Prime Minister, and, as I said, we will be making an announcement very soon on the name of the woman who will be appointed as the new Sex Discrimination Commissioner.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that, unlike the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, the role of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner will be made a full-time appointment when it is made?
Senator Moore, what I take you to mean is that you want to know whether the person appointed as the Sex Discrimination Commissioner will have another commission as well. The functions of the Disability Discrimination Commissioner are being carried out by former senator Susan Ryan, and she is also the Age Discrimination Commissioner. In my view, Susan Ryan has carried out both of those roles with great skill and dedication. The fact that she has been double-hatted, as it were, has not been to the cost of either of those roles. In fact, there are obvious synergies between them. But in this particular case it is not the government's intention to ask the new Sex Discrimination Commissioner to act in another role with the Human Rights Commission.