Page 1548 - Week 05 - Thursday, 2 June 2022

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Northern Territory has its own police force. Tasmania has its own police force. There is no reason why we should not have our own police force.

Our firies, nurses and ambos should not be abused, bashed or worse while serving our community. I am glad that the government worked with me and we legislated for the offences against frontline serving officers. I consider that a great achievement, and I have seen it used a few times already.

What I learnt as shadow minister for police and emergency services during the 2020 bushfires and the hailstorm prepared me for being shadow minister for health during the global pandemic. I knew my role was to ease distress and keep the government on their toes, especially during the lockdown. I spent many days in this building—the only person on the first floor—furiously emailing Cath, in the minister’s office, about someone who needed help. I also stood by and called on our government to work better for our healthcare workers.

I have been multicultural shadow minister twice in this place. It is a gruelling but rewarding portfolio, as Tara well knows. There are so many events, but every event to me is like visiting with family. There are so many letters to write to federal members in support of visa applications and changes to people’s status.

There was the food relief that we did during the COVID-19 pandemic. To get culturally appropriate food in large quantities to large families in lockdown was such a team effort. It was just phenomenal. I thank everyone who was involved in that. Well done to you all.

When I was first elected and I raised the issue of children’s playgrounds, I was practically laughed out of this place! I was asked weird questions at the lift about what the heck I was talking about. I am really glad to see that the discussion goes on, especially about a few playgrounds being fully, safely fenced. A fence is a safety feature to keep kids safe from running away. I know with two children on the autism spectrum that kids can run very fast, and when they have an underdeveloped sense of fear, this can be deadly. As someone who has sat miserably at a small park behind my house with my oldest kids when they were very little, distressed and anxious, I hope I have made life easier for other new mums as well as those who are soldiering on.

There is one line I must call out, however, from both Mr Steel and Mr Rattenbury, when discussing fenced playgrounds. It has bothered me for many years. I have been completely appalled to see in the debates about playgrounds the constant reference that somehow wanting a fenced playground meant that parents were not willing to, keen to or interested in watching their children properly. The suggestion is that they are lazy or neglectful. It hurts. It cuts me very deeply. The assertion is unedifying, and it goes to show how little some ministers in this parliament who do not have any children understand what parenting is actually like on a day-to-day basis. Please stop accusing parents who want a fenced playground of being in any way lazy. In our playground discussions statements have been made, “Parents still need to watch their kids.” That is what I am referring to. It has happened more than once in this place. It is so far from the exhausted truth that we live.

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