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Oz opposition disagrees with placement of women into forces

Last Updated: Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 15:47

Melbourne: In the backdrop of Australia planning to shed gender inequality in its defence forces, the country`s opposition party on Thursday said the frontline of war is no place for women but maintained its support for equality in armed forces.
The Opposition`s stand has been clarified two days after Defence Personnel Minister Greg Combet told Parliament all areas of military service should be open to women.

His Coalition counterpart Bob Baldwin said psychological aspects of battle made the frontline unsuitable for women.

"The Coalition believes in the equality of opportunity for women in the defence force," he said and added "The Coalition, however, doesn`t agree with the placement of women into forces such as the SAS, clearance divers, commandos or frontline combat engineers," according to `Herald Sun` report.

Baldwin said the spectre of a firefight in war would be a bigger threat to team morale if women were engaged in battle.

The capture of women in convoys from the US forces had placed the lives of fellow soldiers at risk as the "instinct ... of protecting" kicked in.

"When the enemy captures women, they treat them a little bit differently to what they do male prisoners," he said. However, Labour MP Yvette D`Ath said the issue of serving on the frontline should be "irrespective" of gender.

"I`m very strong on equality and basis on who can do the job," she said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 15:47

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