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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 3767..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

If I were that woman and I had been treated by Senator Humphries like that, I would be furious and considering my legal options. I have not seen such a mean media release. None of you guys have yet stooped that low. Senator Humphries did this without any reason. This research will look at the impact of a whole range of changes, not just WorkChoices, but also welfare to work and the impact that has on vulnerable workers. It is predominantly looking at women and the impact on women.

The media release was extremely mean spirited. I would have imagined that, as senator for the ACT, Senator Humphries would be concerned about women's working conditions and that he would await the research, consider it and perhaps then ignore it, as he has done in the past. I would have thought that he would have at least waited for that research to commence, rather than slag off the personal reputation of a very senior academic research who, along with a number of women, has agreed to take on this research.

It is very serious research of a type that has never before been done across the country. The ACT government is very pleased to be involved in this research. We have provided $10,000 as a small contribution to that research, as has every other state and territory jurisdiction in the country.

I would imagine that all of you opposite would be very interested in what that research has to say. Then, perhaps, if you do not agree with it, it will be time to take out the sticks and stones and throw them at the researchers, rather than before the research has even started.

MR MULCAHY: Minister, how do you believe those affiliations will impact on the perception of impartiality in relation to this report?

MS GALLAGHER: She is a professional academic. This is her job. Her job is not with the Labor Party. Her job is as an academic. She has been contracted, in a business arrangement, by a number of women's organisations, along with the support of state and territory governments, for a scope of work. She will be assisted by a number of other female researchers.

Her personal affiliations, whatever they have been in the past, will be considered through the ethics committee that this scope of work is going through before the research commences. I imagine that if there are any guarantees or safeguards that need to be considered they will be considered in that highly appropriate process, rather than by Senator Humphries, by issuing a press release, and Mr Mulcahy, by asking this question, casting aspersions on her personal beliefs as opposed to her professional capacities, from my understanding, as a highly regarded academic and researcher.

I feel sorry for her because of the fact that she has been brought into it like this because this research is very important. I am not sure of her previous history with the Labor Party and what it is now. She may well still be a member of the Labor Party. I have no idea. It is highly appropriate that the ethics committee consider those issues. If they need safeguards or further commitments from her, they should be sought at that time.


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