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Laws 2015, 4(3), 314-334;

The Political Contingency of Sex Discrimination Legislation: The Case of Australia

ANU College of Law, The Australian National University, Fellows Road, Acton 2600, ACT, Australia
Received: 10 January 2015 / Revised: 26 May 2015 / Accepted: 17 June 2015 / Published: 24 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Law - Engendering Equality)
PDF [347 KB, uploaded 24 June 2015]


There has been a marked shift away from social liberalism in many parts of the world which has profound ramifications for women, whose status remains contingent on the good graces of public institutions that remain resolutely masculinist. Neoliberalism, with its focus on the privatisation of public goods and promotion of the self within the market has become the dominant political ideology everywhere and is further undermining the interests of the majority of women. This essay will address the changing fortunes of sex discrimination legislation as a specific example of an initiative designed to improve the status of women. Australia will be used as a case study because of its passionate embrace of, first, social liberalism, and then, neoliberalism. Issues pertaining to affirmative action (positive action), intersection with human rights instruments, reporting requirements and incentives will also be addressed. Although Australia is a multi-jurisdictional federation, the essay will focus primarily on the federal arena in terms of legislative initiatives, policy and jurisprudence.
Keywords: sex discrimination; equality; neoliberalism; Australia sex discrimination; equality; neoliberalism; Australia
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Thornton, M. The Political Contingency of Sex Discrimination Legislation: The Case of Australia. Laws 2015, 4, 314-334.

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