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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . . Page.. 281..


MR CORNWELL (continuing):

forward, specifically in relation to fathers, is very important. I do wonder, in fact, whether the concern of some of those who are opposing this reference is that they are worried about what the committee might find in an inquiry.

With great respect to the chairman of the Community Services and Social Equity Committee, the argument put up that there is too much work to be done by the committee before June 2004 simply is not justified. I am not saying that the committee does not have enough references and work on its plate at the moment but I do not believe that the claim that the committee will be unable to finish its work before we move into the caretaker period is justified. I think it is possible, first of all, to bring down a report-even an interim report, Mr Hargreaves-before we move into the caretaker period. It could be taken up then by a new Assembly and continued.

But the other point is this: members may recall that the previous government bought down a report into elder abuse, which was not responded to before we went to an election. I admit it took me 18 months to get a response from this tardy government. But at least we handed down a report and that report could have been responded to. So there is a way to deal with this reference. The minister might like to address the suggestion that we might have an interim report. That is another option.

A third option, of course, is for Mrs Burke to set up a select committee, and that is a matter that you may like to consider, Mrs Burke, if, as it appears, your motion is defeated. But I do not believe there is any justification for rejecting this reference out of hand.

Matters affecting fathers in this territory are important. I think the issues are growing. Those of us who deal with the Lone Fathers Association and other men's support groups know the bitter frustration that so many of these people face. We know that they feel rejected and ignored. Indeed, society seems to be keen to put them down. When you watch television commercials you find that males are frequently placed in the role of playing the fool. I suppose, to be fair, women are not terribly keen about being shown off as bimbos if you want to sell a car, but never mind.

These are matters that need to be addressed. I commend Mrs Burke for bringing forward this motion. Other options are available if the motion is defeated and I hope that she will pursue them.

MRS BURKE (11.40), in reply: I would very briefly like to wrap up some of the comments that have been made. Before I do so, I would like to thank my Liberal colleagues for at least their undying support on this matter. I was disappointed about some of the things that were said. It is interesting how we weave our political way through things in this place.

Mr Hargreaves, we have had a talk about this. We have had discussions, and I do say-

Mr Hargreaves: What?

MRS BURKE: Hang on-hear me out. I apologise that I was not able to attend the meeting that we were due to have. I had discussions about it with the staff in your office, I sent the motion to your office, we talked and you did explain about the workload. I am


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