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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 982..


MR WOOD: I present the following paper:

Canberra's Festivals-New office to support all of Canberra's festivals-Media release by Brendan Smyth (Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts), dated 27 March 2001.

Hare-Clark electoral system-women candidates

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.45): Mr Speaker, I would like to comment briefly on the issue raised in question time today by Mrs Burke's incredibly negative question on representation of women in the Hare-Clark system. The question suggested, falsely, that Michael Kerrisk had said that the Hare-Clark electoral system is unfair to women and purported to rely on a press release issued by Mr Kerrisk to illustrate that. In fact, the press release says no such thing. The question was based on a falsehood.

There was again some incredibly selective quotation in the amazingly negative, divisive and aggressive question that was asked by Mrs Burke. The truth of what Mr Kerrisk said was:

The Hare Clarke electoral system used here in the ACT, and the one chosen by the Liberal Party, is a brutal one. Let's not mince words. Increasing the level of female representation in the Assembly will not be easy. In fact, it will be very difficult indeed.

That is not to say the Hare-Clark electoral system is unfair to women. It just means that in the face of the circumstances that exist-namely, that we have an Assembly of 15 men and two women and that at this stage, as we understand it, all 15 of those incumbent men have indicated that they will be running again, or certainly in relation to both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party they have, and this is the point that Mr Kerrisk has made again and again-incumbency gives a candidate under Hare-Clark such a vital head start.

The question was not answered, but the question that was asked by Mrs Burke was: "Chief Minister, please advise me, a Liberal Party woman, what steps the Liberal Party is going to take to ensure that it increases the number of Liberal Party women in the Assembly to, say, at least 50 per cent of its representation?" Let us just assume the answer the Chief Minister might have given to the real question that Mrs Burke asked. Mrs Burke's real question was: "Leader of the Liberal Party, how are you going to ensure that at least half of the Liberal Party members in this Assembly after the next election are women?"

Let us now analyse that. The first thing we have to do is to ensure that Mrs Burke beats Mr Cornwell. So goodbye, Mr Cornwell. Mr Cornwell-and we all know this-will not be in this Assembly after the next election. I can tell you this for sure: Mr Cornwell will not be in this Assembly if Mrs Burke is. One or the other will not be here. Is it going to be Mrs Burke or is it going to be Mr Cornwell? Have you been tapped on the shoulder yet, Mr Cornwell? Have you been given the wink and the nod that you are to make way for Mrs Burke?

MR SPEAKER: Not for years, but I dream of it.


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