Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 August 2022) . . Page.. 2098 ..
During her three-year term in the Assembly, Mrs Cross was responsible for an amendment to the Discrimination Amendment Bill which protected women, during job interviews, from being asked about their debts or their intention of having children—issues that you could not even dream of being raised today but that were commonplace 20 years ago.
Mrs Cross also introduced a private member’s bill which banned smoking indoors, in places such as pubs, clubs, restaurants, government buildings and hospitals, again something that we take for granted today. The passage of that particular legislation was a rare example of an occasion where the Liberals actually won a vote from opposition, having voted alongside the crossbench, made up of Democrats and Greens—when the Greens were actually a crossbench—to win a vote and pass legislation against a sitting Labor government.
A passionate advocate of the small business community, Mrs Cross held the position of President of the Philip Business Association, having owned and run a successful jewellery business for many years. Despite her declining health, following a serious accident in 2014, Mrs Cross ran as an independent in the 2020 ACT election for the seat of Yerrabi, stating that health was her top priority and that she wished to see a new hospital built in Canberra’s north.
Being in a wheelchair herself and being a carer for her husband with Alzheimer’s, Mrs Cross was inspired to run in 2020 by the nurses at Calvary Hospital, after spending two months there, where she had the opportunity to speak to fellow patients, their families and friends, nurses, doctors, ambos and wards people. Whilst she was unsuccessful on that occasion, no-one could deny that she was in a unique position to advocate on behalf of the many, many people with a disability or who were sick.
Mrs Cross was ably assisted in her role as an MLA by her trusted adviser and husband, David Cross, and I am told that theirs was a love story for the ages. In fact, I understand that Mrs Cross was buried with a box full of love letters and Valentine’s Day cards from David, spanning the 35 years of their relationship. Sadly, Mr Cross passed away just over 12 months before Mrs Cross. I know that his loss would have had a deep, deep impact on Mrs Cross in her final year.
Whilst the Canberra community mourns the loss of Mrs Cross, I know that she will be at peace, knowing she is reunited with her beloved David in eternal life. On behalf of the Canberra Liberals, our sincerest condolences to Mrs Cross’s family and friends. May she rest in peace.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.39): I rise today on behalf of the ACT Greens to mark the passing of Helen Cross, a member of the Fifth Assembly from 2001 to 2004, representing the former seat of Molonglo. That time line of course means that her time in the Assembly pre-dates all of us here now as members—although I note the Chief Minister’s remarks at having met her as a staffer—but, as I will touch on through my remarks, her legacy does live on.
When one asks about Mrs Cross’s time in the Assembly, the common recollection is that she was one of the most colourful and perhaps controversial figures to grace the