Page 2097 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Differentiating herself from her Liberal colleagues at that time cannot have been easy, but I am sure that many Canberrans are grateful for Mrs Cross’s courage and conviction in voting in favour of this significant reform. Mrs Cross also successfully introduced the Discrimination Amendment Bill in 2002 to ensure that women are not discriminated against based on possible future pregnancy or their intentions to have children, such as during a job interview. Among Mrs Cross’s legacies include a private member’s bill in 2003 to ban smoking in confined public places, including hospitality venues, shopping centres, government buildings and hospitals, via the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Bill 2003.
I had the opportunity to meet Mrs Cross when I first arrived in this place, as a much younger man and adviser to then member John Hargreaves. It is fair to say that she made just as many friends across the aisle as she had on her own side. Many of these friendships were based around her diverse range of interests and passions, which she strongly expressed both inside and outside of this place. Mrs Cross was a genuine character, in the best sense of the term. She was great company and left an enduring legacy on this place. On behalf of my colleagues, I extend my sincere condolences to Mrs Cross’s family and friends.
MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (10.34): On behalf of the Canberra Liberals, I pay tribute to former Canberra Liberal and Assembly colleague Helen Cross. Whilst I never had the opportunity to meet Mrs Cross personally, I know that she achieved many things in her time here, on behalf of her community. Mrs Cross was born in Australia to parents of Greek origin and was elected to represent the people of Molonglo in 2001. Of course, who could forget the constant ringing on the radio of: “Don’t put a tick, don’t put a cross, put a 1 next to Helen Cross”? I still remember it and it was way, way before my time in politics.
But long before her time in the Assembly, Mrs Cross’s commitment to always working to better the lives of the most vulnerable in the community was evident. Mrs Cross successfully organised many fundraising events in her lifetime, and her efforts were recognised in 1983, when she was crowned Miss New South Wales Charity Queen, having raised the most amount of money for children with cerebral palsy in New South Wales, and runner up Miss Australia Charity Queen, having raised the second highest amount of fundraising in the country—a truly remarkable achievement.
Mrs Cross was a trailblazer for women. She will be remembered for many things, not the least of which was casting the deciding vote to decriminalise abortion in the ACT, almost exactly 20 years ago. At the time, provisions in the Crimes Act allowed for ten-year jail terms for women undergoing abortion and had a requirement forcing women seeking abortions to view pictures of foetuses and to accept a 72-hour cooling-off period.
Mrs Cross was also very proud of the high proportion of female representation in the Legislative Assembly, saying, “No parliamentary body can hope to successfully develop realistic policy positions if the perspective of half the population is not fully understood and represented,”—a sentiment that resonates strongly with me and which I think is very well represented in parliament today.