Senators in war of words over women in combat roles

Senator Linda Reynolds. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

A South Australian senator has come under fire after speaking out against women in combat roles in the Australian Defence Force.

Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi told Parliament he does not "believe incorporating women into combat units is in the best interests of Australia's national security".

The comment came while the senator was arguing against the removal of an exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act that allows discrimination against women being given combat roles.

"It's about blurring the lines between political correctness and sound tactics in the name of what I think is social justice," the South Australian senator said.

West Australian senator Linda Reynolds, who was Australia's first woman brigadier in the Army Reserve, hit back at Bernardi, labeling his comments as appalling.

"I want to say to Senator Bernardi: shame on you," Senator Reynolds said.

"He could not have chosen a more insulting or demeaning topic, not only to all of our women who now serve in uniform, but all those women who want to put their hand up."

Reynolds' Liberal colleague David Fawcett also took aim at Senator Bernardi's comments.

"If somebody is capable, willing and able to do the task to the required standard with the same amount of training and support that any other member has, then I don't think their gender should necessarily disqualify them," Senator Fawcett said.

Bernardi's comments come just weeks after former politician Mark Latham accused the ADF of lowering entry standards in an effort to get more women into the ADF.

Senators in war of words over women in combat roles
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